September 17, 2013
Ladd Everitt, (202) 701-7171,  leveritt@csgv.org  
Washington, D.C.—Our hearts are heavy today as we contemplate the human suffering caused by yet another mass shooting in the United States. 12 precious lives were lost yesterday, and 8 innocent bystanders were wounded, in the type of brutal and senseless attack that has become a common aspect of American life. We extend our deepest condolences to those mourning the loss of lost loved ones.There is nothing unique about deceased gunman Aaron Alexis. He was the typical mass shooter in many ways, the kind of deranged “everyman” we have come to sadly expect as we grit our teeth and wait for the next tragedy to happen. He struggled with serious mental illness. He had a history of violent behavior and recklessness with firearms. Yet he was a “law-abiding citizen” according to the perverted lexicon of the National Rifle Association—a legal gun purchaser who even obtained a concealed handgun permit in his home state of Texas. He traveled to a state with weak gun laws to obtain a firearm(s). And he is reported to have employed the weapon that has now become the choice tool of cop killers, mass murderers, and insurrectionists nationwide—the AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle. [Editor’s Note: The FBI’s lead investigator clarified later today that no AR-15 was used in the attack.]

There should be disgust, but not shock. The inaction of state and federal legislators has made this slaughter inevitable. Today, Congress will observe a moment of silence for those lost in the Navy Yard shooting. In truth, their moment of silence has lasted for decades. There is no other democracy on the face of the earth in which killers like Seung Hui-Cho, Jared Loughner, James Holmes, Wade Michael Page and Aaron Alexis would have legal access to any type of firearms, much less battlefield weapons. There is no other free society that allows the gun lobby to write its own laws.

The responsibility for this nightmare lies with those lawmakers who have sided with the gun lobby in order to enhance their personal power and private interests. This is in direct contradiction with the writings of our Founders, who made it clear—time and time again—that the goal of elected office should be to serve the public good.

As for Americans who are sick of this nightmare, it is long past time for us to stand up and demand the vision of “domestic tranquility” promised by our Constitution. Let us honor those lost, and save those who will be lost if we fail to act, by rolling up our sleeves and engaging in the hard work of participatory democracy. Nothing less will vindicate our most basic, inalienable rights to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our message to federal and state legislators: Strengthen and expand background checks for gun purchases and ban the military-style assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines so frequently used by mass killers. And let us make it clear to them that if they continue to put our loved ones in the line of fire we will do everything in our power to end their political careers.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy.

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