Calls for some kind of reasonable reform to our recklessly lax gun laws are growing to a roar across the nation in the wake of the gruesome massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, as they tend to following each mass shooting – but this time, they are being joined by some of the right-wing’s biggest heroes and combat veterans from every state.
Four-star general and former CIA director David Petraeus (ret.) has founded a group to push for stronger gun reform legislation, the Veterans Coalition for Common Sense. He is joined by famous NASA astronaut and Navy Captain Mark Kelly, the husband of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who narrowly avoided assassination in a Tucson shooting by a deranged conservative, who shot Giffords in the head before killing six others in the attack.
Their organization will unite veterans from all branches of service in an effort to keep our citizens safe from the outrageous proliferation of firearms across our nation. “As service members, each of us swore an oath to protect our Constitution and the homeland. Now we’re asking our leaders to do more to protect our rights and save lives. Gabby and I are grateful to all of these incredible veterans and leaders who are using their voice to call for commonsense change that makes our communities safer,” said Kelly in his press release.
Firearms are used in 70% of all veteran suicides, of which there may be more than twenty-two every day. Veterans are also in a unique position to address the debate over firearms, having seen the brutal consequences of gunshot wounds up close and personal. Iraq veteran Terron Sims II remarked that “Actual combat veterans who have seen negative effects of rifle fire on the human body know it is not like Hollywood. On the battlefield, violence is something that has to happen. But we’re living in this era where we have these mass murders, and our elected officials always backpedal.”
It’s beginning to look like the lives lost in Orlando may have finally been the tipping point. We applaud General Petraeus and Capt. Kelly for their efforts to raise awareness and level more pressure on our do-nothing Congress, in the hopes of finally get some kind of common sense gun reform passed. We aren’t asking to ban all guns; nobody wants to get rid of the Second Amendment. We just want to be able to go about our lives without the fear of being murdered at school, at a nightclub, or at a movie theater.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.