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‘That gun changed our lives forever’

Marian Wright Edelman | 7/15/2013, 9:21 a.m.
Marian Wright Edelman

As a recent New York Times article explained: “Advocates for domestic violence victims have long called for stricter laws governing firearms and protective orders. Their argument is rooted in a grim statistic: when women die at the hand of an intimate partner, that hand is more often than not holding a gun. In these most volatile of human dramas, they contend, the right to bear arms must give ground to the need to protect a woman’s life. In statehouses across the country, though, the NRA [National Rifle Association] and other gun-rights groups have beaten back legislation mandating the surrender of firearms in domestic violence situations. They argue that gun ownership, as a fundamental constitutional right, should not be stripped away for anything less serious than a felony conviction – and certainly not, as an NRA lobbyist in Washington State put it to legislators, for the ‘mere issuance of court orders.’” In order words, gun lobbyists would rather wait for a husband who already has a court order requiring him to stay away from his wife to receive an actual felony conviction – for example, one for murdering his wife – before asking him to stay away from guns.

We can do better. We must do better.

Too many American families have had their lives changed forever by guns because too many Americans have easy, impulsive access to firearms, including hundreds of thousands of Americans who should never be allowed to have them. In too many cases children are witnesses to gun violence that occurs in their families or the children also become victims. We can do better.

Over the July 4th weekend, supporters of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action singed an independence from gun violence pledge to rid the country of weak gun laws that allow this preventable epidemic of gun violence to continue. Now is the time to join thousands of supporters of common sense gun safety laws and demand the right to live free of the fear that your family could be the next to be devastated by gun violence.

Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind mission is to ensure every child a healthy start, a head start, a fair start, a safe start and a moral start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to http://www.childrensdefense.org.