In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, FL, American Ethical Union reaffirms its commitment to strict gun control and for an end to the culture of gun violence.
On the afternoon of February 14th a teenager shot and killed seventeen people, including thirteen children, with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle he had purchased legally. As our hearts break for the victims and families of this atrocious shooting—and for the victims and families of the many school shootings that have preceded it—we at the American Ethical Union are led to ask: “How many people must die before we confront the evil of gun violence in America?” There is a deep sickness in any society which values private gun ownership over the lives of children, yet time and again grotesque acts of mass violence are followed by political apathy as elected officials choose donations from the gun lobby over the safety of young people in school. The American Ethical Union stands with the survivors and families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in saying “Never again.” It is well past time to enact restrictions on the sale and ownership of firearms, and to promote a culture of life and freedom over the deadly culture of the gun.
The mass shooting of children at Stoneman Douglas High School was horrific. Also horrific is the pervasiveness of deadly gun violence throughout American society. Every year guns take tens of thousands of lives: in tragic accidents; when guns are used for suicide; and through criminal action. Marginalized communities—particularly women and people of color—are disproportionate victims of gun violence, and have been raising their voices for decades without action. Enough. The lives of people of color are as worthy of respect as those of white children in Florida suburbs, and for all our sakes we must take action now.
The evidence from multiple scientific studies and international comparisons make clear that rates of gun violence in a society are directly related to the number of guns in that society: more guns means more gun violence. To reduce the amount of gun violence in America we must start reducing the number of guns. This is in no way contrary to the Constitution. The concept of an individual right to private ownership of almost any firearm is a recent and perverse reinterpretation of our founding documents. Regulation of private ownership of firearms is consistent with American history and American law, and is an ethical necessity.