State needs to make it il­le­gal to pur­chase as­sault weapons

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - Opinion - By Gail Schwartz

Last year alone, there were 340 mass shoot­ings in the United States. Mass shoot­ings are de­fined as in­ci­dents in which 4 or more people, not in­clud­ing the shooter, are shot or killed. The math isn't dif­fi­cult — that's nearly one a day.

Af­ter ev­ery mass shoot­ing, we have hoped that our elected lead­ers would take ac­tion in­stead of of­fer­ing their "thoughts and prayers.” Be­cause their job in­volves pro­vid­ing for the safety of their con­stituents, we ex­pect our elected lead­ers to do some­thing to pre­vent fur­ther loss of lives. They have failed us time and again.

The next mass shooter is al­ready out there. We know this from ex­pe­ri­ence. I know this per­son­ally. My nephew, Alex, was gunned down while sit­ting at his desk in lan­guage arts class at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land. He was 14.

Luck­ily, we have an op­por­tu­nity to try a dif­fer­ent ap­proach — some­thing that has never been done be­fore. I am a part of a bi­par­ti­san coali­tion rep­re­sent­ing vic­tims from the Park­land and Pulse night­clubs mass shoot­ings. We are of­fer­ing Florid­i­ans a chance to de­cide which type of guns should be sold in our state.

Our bi-par­ti­san or­ga­ni­za­tion — Do Some­thing Florida! — is work­ing to place an amend­ment on Florida’s 2020 gen­eral elec­tion bal­lot that would make it il­le­gal to pur­chase the type of mil­i­tary-grade as­sault weapons that killed my nephew, his class­mates and teach­ers.

We have or­ga­nized a statewide pe­ti­tion col­lec­tion drive, and over the next year, we will work to col­lect the re­quired 766,200 sig­na­tures to place this amend­ment on the bal­lot in 2020.

Florida vot­ers will have the chance to ex­er­cise their right to vote and ban the as­sault weapons that should only be­long in the hands of the mil­i­tary and law en­force­ment per­son­nel.

Florida is not alone in tak­ing this sort of de­ci­sive ac­tion. Seven states and the Dis­trict of Columbia have taken steps to ban as­sault weapons. The Supreme Court has up­held these laws.

We have a chance to make Florida the 8th state to de­clare that there is noth­ing more im­por­tant than keep­ing our loved ones safe.

One year af­ter our beau­ti­ful chil­dren and loved ones were killed in Park­land, we are turn­ing our grief into ac­tion. This is not about tak­ing away any­one’s rights, it’s about sav­ing lives. We will no longer tol­er­ate ram­pant, killing ma­chines in­fil­trat­ing our neigh­bor­hoods, our schools, our air­ports, our night­clubs. That’s why we are do­ing some­thing, and we need your help.

Visit BAWNFL.org to down­load, print and sign the pe­ti­tion to help put this life­sav­ing is­sue on the 2020 bal­lot.

You can con­trib­ute to the safety of our com­mu­nity. You can help send a mes­sage that we will no longer sit idly by while our pre­cious chil­dren and fel­low Florid­i­ans suc­cumb to weapons meant for war zones.

We know this is not the cure to end gun vi­o­lence, but it will de­crease the grotesque num­ber of ca­su­al­ties from mass shoot­ings.

We have tol­er­ated this daily bar­rage of vi­o­lence for far too long. We can no longer be com­pla­cent and re­signed to this blood­shed in our com­mu­ni­ties.

Join us. Sign the pe­ti­tion. Do Some­thing!

Gail Schwartz is the aunt of Park­land shoot­ing vic­tim, Alex Schachter, and Chair of Do Some­thing Florida!, a project of Ban As­sault Weapons Now, a Florida po­lit­i­cal com­mit­tee pri­mar­ily com­prised of sur­vivors and fam­ily mem­bers of vic­tims of mass shoot­ings at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School and Pulse.

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