One year ago today, families across America saw the carnage in Newtown broadcast on the nightly news. Yet one year later, politicians in Washington have failed to protect the American people.
The epidemic of gun violence continues to plague our nation as guns are involved with the murder of 33 Americans each day. Not even a mass shooting this fall in the nation’s capital itself, a shooting only blocks from where politicians work in the halls of Congress, could motivate Washington to act.
Columbine, Blacksburg, Tucson, Aurora, Newtown, and the Navy Yard – so reads the list of cities and towns now known by millions for the violence their people suffered and the agony they still endure.
In Chicago, New York, Detroit, Atlanta, and Boston we see violence each day, but rarely does it make the front page. The shear amount of gun violence in America has desensitized our society to what that violence means and the people it impacts.
One year after Newtown, we have seen no tangible solutions from Washington. Instead we’ve seen the U.S. Senate reject expanded background checks, reject an assault weapons ban, and reject a ban on high-capacity gun magazines.
In 1998, Massachusetts continued its long and proud history of leading America.
We adopted some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, including a ban on assault weapons and a provision banning convicted violent criminals or drug traffickers from carrying or owning a gun.
Since Newtown, several states such as Colorado, Delaware, New York, Maryland, and Connecticut have adopted laws to help reduce gun violence. Elected leaders demonstrated political courage, prioritizing constituent safety over job security.
But nearly two thirds of the more than 100 new gun laws enacted in America this year make it easier to purchase or own a gun.
Even in those states looking to join us as a national leader in protecting the safety of our citizens, the lack of federal action is morally outrageous and destructive.
The torrent of guns crossing our borders continues to destroy lives. Consider that in 2011, about two thirds of guns recovered at crime scenes in Massachusetts came from out of state.
From Boston, where we saw nine people shot in just one weekend this September, to Brockton, a city that since 2010 has seen more than 20 people murdered by guns, we know all to well the costs of inaction.
If it’s the responsibility of elected officials to serve and protect us, how can we as a nation accept the stale arguments and reasoning from the NRA that somehow justify our inaction?
It’s not about infringing on the constitutional right of responsible, law-abiding citizens to own a gun. It’s about public safety.
As President Obama comforted grieving families last December, families who spent their first holiday season without their beloved children, he called on our nation to respond with solutions.
The President asked, “Can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children – all of them – safe from harm?”
The answer one year later is still no.
This holiday season in Newtown, bedrooms are empty, families are grieving, and children across America are still dying.
We have lost our patience with silence and waiting and politics.
The time for action is now.
Steve Grossman is Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.