The shooting in Parkland, Florida, like the many mass shootings and school shootings before it, horrified the country. But the aftermath this time has been unlike the cycle of inaction we’ve sadly become used to.
What is so different right now is that America’s young people, those directly impacted by the tragedy, are speaking out. They are leading other young people to march on state capitals, and soon in our nation’s capital, to demand action from their leaders.
To those of us in Congress who have been fighting for gun reforms for years with little to show for it, this change has shown a ray of hope. So what do we choose to do in this moment, to change gun laws and save lives?
I support a wide array of gun legislation. I will be an original cosponsor of the Assault Weapons Ban when it is reintroduced in the House in the coming weeks. I have been a vocal supporter of reinstating funding for research into the causes of and potential solutions to gun violence at the Centers for Disease Control. And I will continue to push hard for universal background checks.
But there is a measure that is particularly relevant in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that I have been focused on.
Before a young man in Florida took 17 lives, there were an alarming number of warning signs which still failed to stop him from bringing an AR-15 rifle to the school which had expelled him.
Last year I joined two colleagues to introduce a bill called the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act, which would give families and law enforcement a major tool to act on the red flags the perpetrators often display before making the decision to kill. Some experts argue that a law like this one could have prevented the shooting in Florida.
This measure could also go a long way to preventing suicides by enabling families to keep loved ones from getting guns when they are in a time of crisis.
Connecticut, California, Indiana, Washington, and Oregon have all adopted variations of this legislation. They are saving lives without violating gun owners’ due process rights, and I believe we should expand them nationwide. This idea has drawn recent support from conservatives, gun advocates, and members of both parties. Most importantly, the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act is something that Congress could actually pass.
I will continue working to build support for this and other measures which I believe could save American lives.
Rep. Donald Beyer can be reached through his website at www.beyer.house.gov, on Twitter @RepDonBeyer or his office at (202) 225-4376.