Two Years After Newtown, Take Action Right Now To Defeat The NRA
9:35 am on Sunday morning will be exactly two years after the start of one of the most horrific mass shootings in American history. On the morning of December 14, 2012, a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut armed with a semi-automatic assault rifle and killed 20 children and six educators before taking his own life.
Many people hoped this tragedy would be a transformative moment for the United States, but by some measures not that much has changed. In the two years since, about 60,000 Americans have died by gunfire. There have been at least 94 school shootings (and another reported today in Portland, OR). Congress failed to pass comprehensive background check legislation even though 90 percent of Americans supported it. And if trends continue, 2015 will be the year when gunfire passes motor vehicles as the leading killer of young Americans under 26.
But despite these deplorable incidents and disappointing trends, there are many indications of progress in the fight for stronger gun laws. This year, Washington state voters passed a referendum to strengthen background checks with 60 percent of the vote, and in Nevada, a similar measure just qualified for the ballot with a record number of signatures for the state. Legislatively, there have been 64 laws passed to strengthen gun laws, including significant reforms in swing states like Colorado.
And while there was some political backlash to those — like in Colorado where two Democratic state Senators were recalled in 2013 following their votes to strengthen gun laws — the gun violence prevention community has punched back. This year, in those same two seats, candidates supporting gun safety measures like stronger background checks beat the NRA-backed candidates. Colorado governor John Hickenlooper also won. Connecticut governor Dan Malloy narrowly won reelection, and there is evidence that his support of stronger gun laws was a key reason voters pushed him over the edge. And with new groups like Gabby Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, and Sandy Hook Promise, along with this new, proven strategy to focus on states and bring the issue directly to voters, the future looks bright.
Which brings us to the next big test: confirming Dr. Vivek Murthy for surgeon general. We wrote just a few days ago about this fight — and about how the NRA has made it their mission to block Dr. Murthy’s confirmation simply because he has taken the medically accepted position (and the position taken by the surgeon general under Ronald Reagan) that gun violence is a public health issue. Dr. Murthy has excellent credentials to be the nation’s top doctor, and the country shouldn’t go through any more public health crises without a surgeon general’s leadership. With Congress in the middle of negotiating how they are going to finish their business before the year ends, now is the critical moment to get them to stand with Vivek and deal a big defeat to the NRA. Will you help?
Here is what you can do:
1. Call your Senator and urge them to stay in session to confirm executive nominees including Dr. Vivek Murthy. (202) 224-3121.
2. Get engaged on social media. Click here for sample messages and graphics to share with your networks.
3. Share this email. Send this around to anybody you know who wants to give America the public health leader it needs regardless of what the NRA says.
BOTTOM LINE: This weekend offers an important time for remembrance of the devastation the Sandy Hook shooting caused two years ago, and reflection on how efforts to reform our gun laws have gone since then. While federal legislation remains out of reach, many positive reforms have taken place and momentum is building for more in the coming days and months.
The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.