There are certain moments that define your parenting journey. For me, one of those was December 14, 2012, when 20 school children between the ages of six and seven were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
I was not personally affected by the shooting. I did not lose a child or a loved one. But like many parents, I felt the pain and fear of that day in my bones. I remember where I was when I heard the news: I was sitting on my couch, my newborn baby gently sleeping and breathing on my chest. In an hour, we had to pick up my almost six-year-old son, who had just started kindergarten.
Of course, I imagined how it would have felt had it been my son who’d been killed. I don’t know any parent of an elementary school child who didn’t do the same.
After the shooting, as we learned more details—that the shooter had dealt with mental illness, that he’d had easy access to his family’s guns, and that he used an AR-15-style Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle, capable of shooting 45 rounds per minute—I think all of us expected that our government would get their shit together and do something about our country’s gun problem.
You can’t say many in government haven’t tried. The president at the time, Barack Obama, did what he could to pass common sense gun laws that would limit access to the type of guns that cause mass shootings, and create more barriers to folks getting their hands on these guns. But so many of the measures government officials have tried to take over the years since Sandy Hook have been blocked by members of Congress who seem to care more about their NRA memberships than American lives.
It doesn’t help that our current president is right on board with this hateful and harmful mindset.
Since Sandy Hook, over 2,300 lives have been lost in mass shootings. (You can check this ticker from Vox for daily updates.)
WTAF, America? This is a national emergency, so let’s act like it.
As we move into the next few months and consider who the next president of the United States should be, I want someone who is going to take the gun epidemic seriously and who has a fighting chance of making headway on the issue ASAFP.
Now, I’m going to say from the outset that Joe Biden—as much as I love his goofy, sweet grin and his obvious compassion for his fellow humans—was not my first choice for a Democratic candidate for president, mostly having to do with differences on policy plans. There are policies of his that I support, and others that need improvement, as far as I’m concerned. But I’m “blue no matter who” and I’m going to happily vote for him, should he end up being the nominee.
With that, I’m pleased to say that one of the issues where Biden knocks it out of the park is gun violence protection. You may have seen the recent video of Biden getting into a heated exchange with a man on the campaign trail about guns. The man was accusing Biden of wanting to take his guns away. Biden told him he was “full of shit,” and that none of his plans have to do with taking away second amendment rights. It’s assault-style weapons specifically he aims to ban.
You can watch the video here:
Biden’s demeanor here is passionate and the exchange does get heated. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s about damn time we saw a serious contender for the presidency get mad as hell about the gun problem in America. I am so here for this.
I don’t think I’d realized until recently just how awesome Joe Biden’s gun violence prevention platform is. But first, it should be noted that his history on this issue goes way back. He’s been campaigning for common sense gun reform for most of his political career.
As Joanna Belanger notes on the Giffords blog, “Vice President Biden has the longest gun safety track record of any of the 2020 Democratic candidates.”
Here are some facts about Biden’s history on guns:
– While in the Senate, Biden helped craft the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, which outlawed machine gun production
– Biden helped garner support for the Brady Bill in 1993, which required background checks for gun purchases
– Biden led the effort, along with Senator Feinstein, that led to the 1994 assault weapons ban
– Given his experience, after Sandy Hook, Obama appointed him to lead a task force to tackle gun safety reform
As far as what Biden wants to do if he win the presidency, it’s very simple: he wants to get guns out of the hands of anyone who shouldn’t have them and he wants to ban the type of assault-style weapons that have been used in most of the mass shootings for the past few years (the assault weapons ban that Biden helped pass in the ‘90s expired in 2004 and has not been reinstated).
The key points outlined in his gun violence prevention platform (which you can read in full here) include:
– Banning the sale and manufacturing of “assault weapons and high-capacity magazines”
– More regulation of existing assault style weapons
– Buying back of assault weapons and decreasing the stockpiling of weapons
– Background checks for all gun sales
– Closing loopholes in current federal background checks for guns
– Reinstating the policy under Obama that kept guns out of the hands of people who experience mental illness (Trump reversed this)
– End online sales of guns
Now that’s all pretty awesome, if you ask me. Again, as Biden has said over and over, he is not trying to take away everyone’s guns. These are common sense ideas that get the most deadly guns out of the hands of the people who are most likely to cause harm to others.
You know what else? The number of Americans who support stricter gun laws has been increasing since Biden last worked in public office. As NPR explained, “A Pew Research Center survey conducted in September found that 60% of Americans say gun laws should be tougher, up from 57% last year and 52% in 2017.”
I don’t know who the next president will be, but I hope it’s someone who takes this issue with utmost seriousness. I don’t want to live in a world where I’m afraid for my children and my family to live normal lives—to go to school, to go to the movies, the mall.
As Biden put it in an op-ed for the New York Times from April 2019: “If we cannot rise to meet this moment, it won’t just be a political failure. It will be a moral one.”
He added: “It’s unacceptable that children learn to fear mass shooters alongside their ABCs, that people feel unsafe on their weekly grocery run, and that families everywhere experience increasing anxiety that they are simply not safe anywhere in the United States.”
Amen. It is truly unacceptable that this is the world we are raising our children in. Let’s hope that changes in gun laws happen as soon as possible, and that whomever is elected president does everything in their power to make it so.