All elected officials have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution. We respect it and its provisions but must equally respect the first three words with which that Constitution begins and the fact that it is WE THE PEOPLE our laws are meant to serve and protect. A balance is and can be found with all issues from free speech to the right to bear arms.
In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School Valentine’s Day shooting, WE THE PEOPLE cannot stand idly by as we keep losing innocent lives - our children - because lawmakers chose guns and the gun lobby over the lives of those they were elected to serve. No law will be 100 percent foolproof, but last week was when we needed sensible gun violence prevention laws. NOW we have yet ANOTHER mass shooting.
In Florida, our Republican legislature and Republican Governor Rick Scott, who is running for U.S. Senate now, passed a law that banned local governments from regulating guns and additionally removes from office and fines any local city or county official if they try to pass gun safety regulations. And nationally, President Trump repealed Obama era provisions making it easier for those with mental disabilities to obtain guns, and the Republican Congress allowed the ban on the AR-15 style guns to expire.
No one has an unrestricted Constitutional right to free speech and the same applies to gun ownership. Background checks, banning those with mental disabilities from obtaining guns, and a waiting period are examples of sensible precautions and gun violence prevention and safety measures that should become law. It doesn’t bar one’s right to bear arms, but it certainly provides for a way to keep guns out of the hands of those who keep using them to kill our children.
When 20 elementary school children were slaughtered at Sandy Hook and those with power did NOTHING to prevent it from happening again, I lost faith in those lawmakers, because they failed us. And WE THE PEOPLE have endured mass shooting after mass shooting since then.
The right to life belonged to the children slaughtered at Sandy Hook and to those at Stoneman Douglas. When will WE THE PEOPLE stop accepting dead children as an acceptable price to pay to preserve the broadest of interpretations of the second amendment?!
Enough is enough! Enough with the cycle of gun violence. Enough with the repeated sound bites and social media posts of ‘thoughts and prayers to the victims’ from politicians with the power to make us safer but don’t. Enough with tolerance for inaction and apathy. Prayers and inaction are not saving our lives and are not saving our children from bullets piercing their bodies and leaving families forever shattered to pieces.
If ‘thoughts and prayers’ are good enough for familes who’ve lost their children, then thoughts and prayers are good enough for those who’ve lost their guns. Those who oppose sensible gun violence prevention laws need to consider if they would be willing to put themselves in the position of our unarmed defenseless children trapped in a school with an allegedy mentally disturbed AR-15 armed gunman.
Of course they wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t want them to. What I want is for them is to realize that gun safety isn’t taking away guns from reasonable people and start caring more about the general welfare and lives of people over a principle. Thoughts and prayers are reflective of those with faith. So let’s commit ourselves to work in good faith to avoid anymore dead children from guns. Our familes cannot endure the further jeopardy of one of our children or family members becoming another fatality to America’s epidemic of gun violence.
— Justin S. Flippen, J.D. - Wilton Manors Vice Mayor, Broward native