"The sculpture Non-Violence has not only endowed the United Nations with a cherished work of art; it has enriched the consciousness of humanity with a powerful symbol that encapsulates, in a few simple curves, the greatest prayer of man; that which asks not for victory, but for peace." Kofi Annan
The Irony of Last Night!
In August, I agreed to be moderator of a gun safety forum in Beverly, MA, at the CABOT cinema. I had studied gun safety and reached out to experts for advice to ask the panelists intelligent questions.
We are fortunate to live in a state that cares about people and respects firearms ownership. On October 18, the MA House of Representatives passed House Bill 4139, an Act Modernizing Firearm Laws. This is a big win for Massachusetts! The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
At 7 p.m. last night, the panelists educated me and the audience with their passion and expertise!
State Rep. Marjorie Decker of Cambridge reviewed House bill 4139, highlighting: registration of ghost guns, enhancement of the Extreme Risk Protective Order (also known as the Red Flag law), expanded locations where firearms are not allowed, and data collection on gun-related crimes.
John Rosenthal, co-founder of Stop Gun Violence and gun owner, spoke of the importance of registering firearms and conducting live firearm training for potential gun owners. He compared firearms to automobiles, both of which were lethal weapons and had to be taken seriously.
Leading prevention activists Rebecca O'Brien of Moms Demand Action and Emily Rubio of March for Our Lives created a force in the room by saying "no thank you" to thoughts and prayers! They wanted bold action. Both are involved in electing local, state, and national candidates who care more about people than the support of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Also at 7 p.m. last night, just a hundred miles away, a gunman in Lewiston, ME, shot eighteen people and injured thirteen. Police from New Hampshire and Massachusetts are helping search for the alleged shooter Robert R. Card. There are surveillance photos of him holding an assault rifle-style weapon. The city of Lewiston and surrounding towns are on shelter in place orders, and schools and businesses are closed. Maine residents may legally carry loaded firearms in public without a permit or background check.
In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 3.4 out of 100,000 people die each year from gun violence in Massachusetts, the lowest death rate in the country. This represents 247 people we know and love, and that's too high. Gun violence is a serious public health problem.
Massachusetts residents must pass a background check when buying a firearm from a licensed dealer, and need a permit to carry it.
Our goal last night was to better understand this bill and what we as citizens can do to improve people’s lives. In addition to the people we lose to gun violence, it is the people who are left behind without a daughter or son or mother or father, and those who are survivors of gun violence who suffer.