I used to live in Highland Park, Illinois.
I have three cousins who still do. One of them, along with her family, was at the parade on July 4th that was disrupted by an active shooter who took at least seven lives and injured many more.
We like to think gun violence cannot happen where we live, but it can. It is well past time for Americans to take action to limit gun violence through sensible violence prevention measures.
Like most of my fellow citizens, I recognize the rights of responsible gun owners. But those rights come with responsibilities, and unfortunately a small number of gun owners abuse those responsibilities. The rest of us have rights too – the rights to live our lives without unreasonable fear for our health and safety, and those of our loved ones.
Children should not have to learn active shooter drills in school. Parents should not have to be afraid to send their kids to school. I have a relative who, having lost several friends to gun violence, recently moved from a state that promotes open and concealed carry of loaded weapons, for fear that he will lose even more friends that way. We are all victims of gun violence if we change the way we behave out of fear.
There is little that our town can do to avoid gun violence happening here in North Kingstown. But the Town Council recently entertained a motion to declare June Gun Violence Prevention Month. Astonishingly, two members of the Council voted against the proposal. If you are not against gun violence, are you for it?
For over 30 years I was a U.S. diplomat, and I lived abroad in eight different countries. Too often, when it was time to return home from our assignments, our friends from other countries asked if we would feel safe in America, or if we would rather stay in their countries. Our gun violence is not only a health threat but has become a national embarrassment, and it does not have to be this way.
Reasonable people can differ about the best ways to prevent gun violence. But let’s have a dialogue in this country, and let’s start, as the U.S. Congress recently has, to enact measures that make our lives safer.