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Don Corrigan

Bring Sanity Back With Common Sense Gun Solutions

June 18, 2014
A "story pitch" came via email the other day for bulletproof blankets for school kids. Children can crouch in the classroom under their blankets and hope for the best when the next Sandy Hook shooter comes to their school.

Really? It has come to this? Our political system is so gridlocked, dysfunctional and hammerlocked by the gun lobby that the best we can do for our babies is to buy them an orange, bulletproof baby blanket for school?

Maps of America on the Web show 74 different school shootings since 20 kids and six adults were slaughtered at Sandy Hook on Dec. 14, 2012. The map darkens every week with death dots, as do similar maps for shooting sprees and gun violence in the U.S. workplace.

In the literal "wake" of Sandy Hook, our U.S. Congress has been able to do NOTHING. Our state legislature has been far worse, passing bills to nullify all federal gun restrictions, to lower the age of carrying guns to 19, to allow guns on campus, to handcuff our local police officers who might attempt to disarm suspicious characters.

To quote the distraught father this past May who lost his son in Isla Vista, Calif.: "They talk about gun rights. What about Chris's right to live? We don't have to live like this. Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, 'Not. One. More.'"

Washington University
In the West End Word reading area, there are people who have had enough. More folks need to stand up and join them in bringing sanity back. Stacey Newman, D-Richmond Heights, is one who is standing up and confronting the insanity in the legislature.

She said it's time to pass laws for background checks and for keeping guns out of the hands of felons and the mentally unstable. She said it's time to stop tying the hands of local and federal law enforcement. And it's time to stop the forces that would have open-carry of automatic weapons in our schools and local restaurants.

"I will introduce legislation in 2015, but they (NRA-backed lawmakers) won't give me a hearing unless people help me demand one," said Newman.

"People must hold pre-elected 2015 Speaker Rep. John Diehl of Town & County accountable. This is now on his watch," stressed Newman. "Diehl carried the 'Right to Bear Arms' constitutional amendment, which will be on the August ballot. This will destroy our city prosecutor's work. Criminals will have more rights to guns than victims will have for justice. I blame John Diehl for all of this – for his unabashed support for the gun lobby.

"Passing laws to arm our teachers, keeping it secret from the public and dismantling local ordinances to allow open carry everywhere is NOT the answer," added Newman. "John Diehl as Floor Leader championed this bill sent to the governor's desk. This is not the answer to saving lives."

Better Wake Up

John Diehl and his cronies better wake up. People have had enough. This spring, more than 250 people met to discuss solutions to gun violence in a forum sponsored by the Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice. Police, pediatricians and school officials at the forum were not recommending arming teachers or advocating orange, bullet-proof blankets for our children.

Carol Wofsey and Barb Finch of University City are now co-chairing a 13-member committee entitled the Campaign for Common-Sense Gun Solutions. They will focus on gun violence as a public health problem.

With this focus, they believe there is a better chance to change the conversation from rancor, loud rhetoric and hostility over the Second Amendment to one of care and concern about keeping our kids safe.

Another development involves the number of area people enlisting in a new group, Everytown for Gun Safety. Everytown has 1.5 million members and, at current membership rates, will grow by another one million this year.

Everytown is non-partisan and has an advisory board of Tom Ridge, the former Homeland Security secretary under President Bush; Eli Broad, the philanthropist; Warren Buffett, the investor; and Michael G. Mullen, former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair under Bush and President Obama.

For those who talk about gun rights: What about school children and their right to live? Must we just buy them bullet-proof blankets and hope for the best? John Diehl and his cronies better get out from under their ideological blankets — and wake up.

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