Tuesday night, President Obama delivered his fifth annual State of the Union address. I strongly support most of the proposals in his address, including the President’s determination to end the war in Afghanistan by 2014, his commitment to increasing the federal minimum wage, and proposal to provide high quality early education for every child in the U.S.
While passage through the Republican held House of Representatives will be difficult, I am also optimistic about the likelihood we will see real gun safety reforms signed into law. I strongly support the President’s comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence.
Following the Newtown shooting, President Obama took decisive action and demonstrated leadership by putting forward a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence. Based upon recommendations compiled by Vice President Joe Biden’s Gun Violence Task Force, the plan would expand and improve NICS background checks, prohibit assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, improve the treatment of mental health problems, increase school security resources, and impose stronger anti-gun trafficking penalties.
Last night, in his State of the Union address to Congress, President Obama reiterated his support for a comprehensive proposal to reduce gun violence. While these policies, or any policy for that matter, will not prevent every instance of gun violence, they will help reduce the carnage by limiting firearms from reaching the hands of criminals and dangerous individuals. These proposals are not radical. They are commonsense ideas that polls show are supported by a majority of Americans.
Each year, almost 100,000 people in America are shot or killed with a gun, 20,000 of which are children under the age of 18. Every day, 32 Americans are killed with handguns. The conversation around gun safety is not about confiscating firearms; it is about stopping needless gun violence that devastates families and communities across the country.
To underscore my commitment to preventing another tragedy of the likes of Newtown, Connecticut, my guest at Tuesday’s State of the Union was Omar Joseph Samaha. Omar’s youngest sister Reema was killed in the mass shooting on the VT campus in April 2007. Since then, Omar has been an advocate for gun violence prevention, currently working as an advocate for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
He co-founded Students for Gun-Free Schools (SGFS), which opposes efforts to force colleges and universities to allow students and faculty to carry concealed handguns on their campuses, in late 2007. Omar also helped expose the “Gun Show Loophole” on ABC’s 20/20 by filming undercover at a Virginia gun show in April 2009, where he was able to purchase ten guns in an hour without a background check. And in 2011, Omar traveled to 56 cities around the country with Mayors Against Illegal Guns representing the “Fix Gun Checks Tour.
I am impressed with his dedication to making our country safer and was honored to have him as my guest. Since Omar lost his sister in 2007, our nation has experienced over 20 mass shootings with five or more fatalities. The President was correct when he stated that the families of Aurora, Oak Creek, and Newtown deserve a vote on every piece of legislation to address our gun laws. Omar and his family deserve a vote too.
To further the discussion on a comprehensive look at reducing gun violence, I plan to hold a public forum on March 11th in Arlington at Washington and Lee High School. There will be representatives from school systems, law enforcement, advocacy groups, and victims of gun violence. I hope you will consider attending the event to continue our conversation on ways to make our country safer for our children.