Over the past year, gun violence has been put in the national spotlight. What is missing from the national conversation is the gun violence that we face in our communities every single day. When I was in college, I lost my best friend and roommate to gun violence. My story is unfortunately all too common in our district and in communities across the country.
This campaign is about ending gun violence once and for all. It is not enough to reduce it; the lives lost are so much more than statistics. We need to call out gun violence for what it is: a public health epidemic caused by social and economic instability. We know all too well that gun violence in our communities can be prevented by combating it at its root causes. Let’s treat it like the disease that it is.
We need to:
Invest in healthcare and mental healthcare. The trauma that gun violence creates for victims and their families and friends is incredibly detrimental to our communities. Too many district residents have to travel great distances to receive healthcare and mental healthcare, and even then, often cannot afford it. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
Create jobs and economic opportunity. Poverty is one of the primary reasons people fall into a place where they have to resort to involvement in illegal activity to get by. This puts people in a position of instability and increases their likelihood of engaging in gun violence. We need to ensure that nobody finds themselves in that position.
Invest in public education. Our public schools are our greatest assets and the bedrock of our communities. We need to invest in a better future for our children, so they never find themselves in a position where they feel compelled to resort to gun violence.
End mass incarceration. Mass incarceration has had a profound impact on the first district. We cannot achieve stability in our communities without ending the policies that have torn families apart and derailed the futures of young people for decades.
Achieve environmental justice. Pollution, climate change, and contaminated water and soil are leading to poor health outcomes in the first district and across the country. This hinders the development of our children’s brains and impacts their decision-making ability for the rest of their lives. In addition, paying for treatment for pollution-caused health conditions such as asthma push many into economic instability and despair. To end gun violence, we must achieve environmental justice.
Fund violence interruption programs nationwide. The implementation of violence interruption programs in neighborhoods around the world has drastically reduced violence by treating it as a disease and public health issue. We need to ensure that communities have the resources to implement this model for addressing violence.
While we invest in our communities and address gun violence at its root causes, it is also important to pass gun reform and gun safety laws that have been proven to save lives. Young leaders have taken to the streets in our nation to demand we do so. Let’s answer their calls for justice.
We need to:
Pass universal background checks. One in five gun purchases doesn’t include a background check. We need to close private sales and gun show loopholes to ensure that guns don’t get into the wrong hands.
Get AR15s and other weapons of war off of our streets. Nobody needs weapons that are used to fight wars to defend themselves. We need to ensure that the weapons used in wars and mass shootings are not on our streets.
Provide funding for states to implement extreme risk protection order laws. Extreme risk protection order laws have reduced suicides and disarmed domestic abusers. We need to encourage more states to pass these laws.
Pass other common sense gun reform. As I travel the district and hear from community members, I will add to this growing list of gun reforms that we can pass at the federal level to create safer communities and preserve lives.