Op-Ed: Ex-military lawmakers: Bring back assault weapons ban. Stop easy access to weapons of war.
August 12, 2019
By Mikie Sherrill and Jason Crow
Article is available, here.
We are both veterans and parents to young kids. As our children and yours head back to school this fall, here is a lesson we hope none of our kids have to learn: A loaded AR-15 rifle — the military-grade weapon used in more mass shootings than any other — can fire dozens of rounds in a minute.
In El Paso, Texas, families who were back-to-school shopping were attacked by a gunman with an AK-47, capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute. Less than 13 hours later, a gunman in Dayton, Ohio, used an assault rifle with a 100-round magazine to kill nine people in 32 seconds
These despicable acts were possible because domestic terrorists were allowed to buy weapons of war. We condemn this hate in the strongest possible terms and we must cut off this bloodshed at the source.
Mass shootings are occurring at an alarming rate and will continue unless we stop the easy access to weapons of war.
The assault weapons ban is an obvious place to start because it’s a solution that has already worked. Between 1994 and 2004, the U.S. banned the purchase of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and gun massacres where six or more people died dropped 37%. That’s why we are calling on the House to pass the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019, which we are both proud to co-sponsor.
More than half of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history have taken place within the last 10 years. All were carried out using an AR-15 or similarly styled weapon.
Assault weapons are meant for warfare, period
We’re intimately familiar with assault weapons designed for military use. While serving in the Army and Navy, we both experienced the rigorous training required of all military personnel who carry them. And we know the purpose of a gun that can fire hundreds of rounds in minutes. It’s not for hunting or for civilian self-defense. It’s for warfare.
Since returning home from our tours of duty, we have watched in horror as military assault rifles have found their way into our schools, malls, movie theaters, music festivals and places of worship, giving a single disturbed individual the power to inflict mass casualties. Each time, Americans cry out for leadership while Congress refuses to act.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., must stop playing political games and bring gun safety bills to the Senate floor. Senators must have the courage to tell the American people where they stand and not hide behind the majority leader any longer. In the last six months, the House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and the Violence Against Women Act, yet McConnell has declared them dead on arrival. It’s time for senators to debate and vote on both measures so that the American people know where they stand.
Schools shouldn't need active shooter drills
Gun manufacturers and their allies in Congress like to tell us that the violence we see in our communities is the price of freedom. They say that protecting our constitutional rights means accepting this kind of carnage in our schools and on our streets. But we both took our first oath to protect and defend the Constitution when we were just teenagers — not much older than many who were brutally murdered in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Parkland, Florida, and elsewhere — and we’ve sworn that same oath many times since.
We’ve never fought for anyone’s right to turn a high school hallway, synagogue, concert, church or Walmart into a battlefield. There’s a lot we hope our children learn at school, but active shooter drills shouldn’t be in the curriculum.
All of our constitutional rights come with common sense safeguards. We can enact measures to save lives from gun violence and respect our Second Amendment. Those goals are not in conflict. The politicians telling us otherwise are out of touch with the America we know, love and swore to protect.
Colorado and New Jersey lead the way on guns
We know because we’ve seen the success of gun safety measures in Colorado and New Jersey. After the Aurora theater shooting, Colorado passed universal background checks legislation. That commonsense measure has prevented over 2,000 firearms sales to individuals who should not have them.
New Jersey has some of the strongest gun laws in the nation and this plays an important role in New Jersey’s consistently low gun death rate. For example, in 2017, the firearm death rate in New Jersey was 5.3 deaths per 100,000 people. By comparison, the national firearm death rate was more than twice that number at 12 deaths per 100,000 people.
Addressing the crisis of gun violence will take leadership and courage. If the Senate refuses to act, then we must vote them out. Let’s show Americans what leadership really looks like. Our children are watching, and learning to see what we do next.