A Tale of Two Pro-Gun Bills

The House Judiciary Committee tabled Republican Rep. Krieger’s bill (HB 921) to eliminate Pennsylvania’s background check system for gun purchasing and leave a less comprehensive system behind. Shira Goodman of CeaseFirePA credited the deluge of calls, letters and visits they organized with thwarting this bill.

However, Rep. M. K. Keller’s bill (HB 2011) giving special legal standing to gun owners and organizations of gun owners to sue towns and cities was passed out of the committee. Nevertheless, Ms. Goodman vowed that CeaseFirePA would continue its work to defeat HB 2011 as it moves to the floor of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly:

And you know what our callers heard repeatedly yesterday — for the first time, the contacts from folks on our side of the issue — the side of gun violence prevention and safety — were far outnumbering the calls from the other side.  That passion gap we always hear about — destroyed!

An average of 100,000 people are shot each year in the United States. Now is not the time to rally for weaker background check laws. Now is the time to fight for stronger gun laws that help prevent violence and promote responsible firearm ownership.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America combined forces to create the video “Scenes from Everytown: 4:08 pm” as part of their “Everytown for Gun Safety” series highlighting key gun violence issues.

Mugbook or Facebook for Gun Traffickers?

— Ellyn Grimm

Earlier this week, undercover police in northwestern Iowa busted a man for illegally trying to get a handgun on Facebook.

As a convicted felon, the suspect wasn’t allowed to own or buy guns. And Iowa law blocked him from buying handguns without getting a background check and a purchase permit. So he turned to his next best option — Facebook — where users can buy and trade guns with zero oversight.

More after the jump.
Facebook is already feeling the pressure from the campaign Mayors Against Illegal Guns launched asking them to prohibit gun sales on their site. Almost 55,000 supporters have signed the petition to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, an annual campaign that was begun in October 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to connect battered-women’s advocates who were working to end violence against women and children.

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence has scheduled a series of special events this month across the state.

Girls Achieve Grapeness

Jewish Women International (JWI), the leading Jewish organization working to end domestic violence and empower women and girls, worked with OPI to create the limited-edition nail polish ─ which is purple, the color of the movement against domestic violence ─ to support its programs that empower girls and women to be safe and independent. OPI manufactured and donated 10,000 bottles of the custom nail color, and the sorority Sigma Delta Tau will distribute the polish through its 65 chapters on college campuses across the country including the University of Pennsylvania, Penn State and Rutgers (New Brunswick and Camden).

More after the jump.
“Girls Achieve Grapeness is a statement color – and that statement is that girls can and will achieve great things. At the same time, it’s helping to fund JWI projects that give girls the resources to do just that,” said Lori Weinstein, executive director of JWI. “We are excited to be working with OPI and SDT, both longstanding partners of JWI, to provide a beautiful, high-quality product with such a noble mission.”

“OPI is excited to be a part of this winning partnership. Thousands of women and girls across the country will be wearing an OPI color that stands for the greatness that girls can achieve when they are given the tools for self-sufficiency and self-esteem,” said Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, executive vice-president and artistic director of OPI Products, Inc. “People use nail color to express who they are; this color makes the statement that girls can be anyone, and accomplish anything.”

“I am very proud of Sigma Delta Tau’s partnership with Jewish Women International. Girls Achieve Grapeness is a fabulous way for college women to make a visible statement against domestic violence,” said National Sigma Delta Tau President Michelle Carlson. “JWI continues to provide relevant programming and opportunities for young women to have an active role in raising awareness on key issues affecting the lives of women everywhere, furthering SDT’s mission of empowering women.”  

In addition to SDT’s distribution on college campuses, the polish will be available at JWI events throughout the month of October.  

Gun Violence Prevention Rally in Montgomery County

— by Michael Barrett

Montgomery County residents rallied for Gun Violence Prevention and urged swing-district Congressman Jim Gerlach (R PA-6) to cosponsor the “Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2013” HR 1565 to keep guns out of dangerous hands.

The event was part of Organizing for Action’s statewide day of action called “Hands Across Pennsylvania.” At 12:30 residents joined hands to show solidarity in preventing gun violence.

Young Victims: A Week of Tragedy

  • Wednesday, May 1: A 2-year-old girl in Burkesville, Kentucky was shot and killed by her 5-year-old who was playing with his .22-caliber rifle, and also on Wednesday, a 6-year-old girl in Florida was shot by her 13-year-old brother.
  • Monday, May 6: A 13-year-old boy in Oakland Park, Florida shot his 6-year-old sister with a handgun.
  • Tuesday, May 7: A 3-year-old boy in Tampa, Florida fatally shot himself with his uncle’s gun. Also, on Tuesday, a 5-year-old in Texas shot his 7-year-old brother.
  • Wednesday, May 8: 2-year-old boy in Corsicana, Texas fatally shoots himself in the head.
  • Friday, May 10: A 12-year-old boy in Camden, New Jersey is shot in the face by an 11-year-old friend.
  • Yesterday, Saturday, May 11, a five-year-old boy in Denton, Texas was shot in the head with a rifle by his eight-year-old friend.

Deaths of children this young are tragic and totally unnecessary. Trigger locks, biometric fingerprint ID safeties or simple gun vaults can and should be used to prevent unauthorized access to firearms.

As Steve Sheffey writes:

The real scandal in Washington is not the four brave Americans killed in Benghazi, but the thousands of Americans killed each year right here at home by handguns.  Maybe the Republicans should hold hearings to find out why that is.

Giffords Receives the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award

— by John Tackeff

Last weekend, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation presented former Representative Gabrielle Giffords with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. In her remarks, Caroline Kennedy, president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, praised Giffords for her acts of courage and commitment to public service:

Today, we honor a woman who inspires the entire world, Gabrielle Giffords has turned a personal nightmare into a movement for political change. After an assassination attempt ended her Congressional career and left her with grave injuries, she fearlessly returned to public life as an advocate for new legislation to prevent gun violence. When others would have withdrawn from public life, she has challenged us all to reengage in the political process. When others would have given up hope, Gabby has been unwavering in her belief that politics can solve problems. When others would have looked for excuses, Gabby has inspired action. She perseveres not just for herself, but for Newtown, and Aurora, for Chicago and Tucson.

More after the jump.
Giffords released a statement thanking the Kennedy Library for the recognition of her work:

It is such an honor to receive the Profile in Courage Award from the Kennedy Library. I believe we all have courage inside us, even when it’s hard to express. I want to keep working to make the world a better place, and I am so grateful.

A new century with new guns, needs new gun laws.

(JSPAN) The Jewish Social Policy Action Network strongly supports federal and Pennsylvania state
legislation as well as municipal ordinances designed to reduce the incidence of gun violence in our state and nation.

Each year more than 30,000 Americans die from senseless gun violence. Each day men, women and
children – mothers, brothers, sisters, children, family, neighbors, and friends – are taken from us as a
result of our inability to advance common-sense firearms regulations.

More after the jump including video of the 20/20 Special “If I Only Had A Gun”
JSPAN has a long-standing concern with the easy access to non-hunting firearms in the United States. The recent mass shootings of students and teachers in Connecticut, movie goers in Colorado, members of the Sikh community at their house of worship in Wisconsin, and other armed attacks on both civilians and law enforcement officials throughout our nation, dramatically underscore the urgent need for more effective measures.

We are reminded that Jewish tradition emphasizes the sanctity and primary value of all human life. The Bible commands us, “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13). The Talmud furthermore teaches us

“he who takes one life it is as though he has destroyed the universe and he who saves one life it is as though he has saved the universe.” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5)

As the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism tells us, “The number and severity of violent shootings in recent years can only be described as an epidemic.” As in any other epidemic, it is society’s collective responsibility to take measures to alleviate the pain, suffering and loss of life it causes.

We recognize an individual’s right to obtain and possess firearms, but that right is not without reasonable limitations. In the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States in District of Columbia v. Heller, Justice Antonin Scalia states:

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose … Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms … We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller (an earlier case) said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those ‘in common use at the time.’ We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.'”

The Court recognizes long-standing judicial precedent “… to consider… prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons.”

The Jewish Social Policy Action Network joins with numerous other faith- based and social policy bodies in calling for Congress and state legislative bodies to take prompt and decisive action to advance sensible gun control laws, including, but not limited to, taking assault weapons off our streets and out of the hands of those who have no legitimate purpose in owning such firearms, and by greatly improving our system of background checks for gun purchasers.

We also call attention to numerous remedies on the state legislative level, including the requirement that the loss or theft of a firearm be reported to law enforcement agencies, and limits on the purchase of specified firearms to one per month.

We welcome the call for a renewal of the ban on nineteen assault weapons passed in 1994, but allowed to expire when it came up for reauthorization in 2004.

Furthermore, we applaud efforts to limit the sales of high-capacity ammunition magazines, which can enable a shooter to fire off dozens of rounds of ammunition without having to reload. Weapons such as these have been used in several mass shootings.

JSPAN decries the opposition by the gun lobby to improved background checks for those who wish to purchase firearms. Both advocates and independent researchers say that such a measure would have a greater impact on gun violence than any other step under consideration. Approximately 90 percent of those polled in several public surveys support background checks. Currently, criminal background checks are required only for guns sold through licensed firearm dealers, which account for only 60 percent of all gun sales in the United States. The current system also allows those not “engaged in the business” of gun selling to sell firearms without a license or without filing any paperwork whatsoever.

We applaud those measures taken by Pennsylvania to end the so-called Florida loophole, in which residents of our state who are not eligible to purchase guns in Pennsylvania are able to buy guns in Florida and then legally possess them here in their home state.

We hope that the courageous examples of support for strong gun controls set by some of our federal and state legislators will serve as an example for other elected officials. We call upon all of our legislators to pay attention to their consciences and to pass legislation to make all people residing in our nation safer from gun violence.

20/20 Special: “If I Only Had A Gun”

Reform Movement Leader Shows Support of Stricter Gun Laws

In advance of the interfaith day of advocacy around gun control today, The Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs sent a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging Congress to pass stricter gun laws.

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:

Nearly four decades ago, in 1975, the Union for Reform Judaism recognized the need for legislation that would limit and control the sale and use of firearms. Since the adoption of that resolution, the URJ’s first calling for the regulation of firearms, more than one million Americans have been killed as a result of gun violence. The URJ has spoken out repeatedly and passionately on gun violence and continues to insist that gun regulation is a vital necessity.

Continued after the jump.
As president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the membership organization for nearly 900 Reform synagogues and 1.5 million Reform Jews in North America, I follow in the footsteps of my predecessors and urge you to support the comprehensive gun violence prevention package before Congress (S.649 / H.R. 137), which not only will require enforceable background checks, but also will curb gun trafficking and enhance school safety, making America safer while keeping the Second Amendment secure. Congress also must ensure that the bill is enforceable by requiring private sellers who sell crime guns to produce a background check — just as dealers are required to do. There’s no question that the two minutes it takes to pass a background check is a wise investment in saving lives.

I ask, too, that you support the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines (S.150 / H.R. 437), which will ban these weapons of war that have no place in our schools or on our streets. These weapons — frequently used in police killings and mass shootings — dramatically increase the number of lives lost and the damage done.

Jewish tradition mandates tikkun olam, “repair of our fractured world” — and this country’s background check system is broken indeed. This flawed system, which does not require “private sellers” to conduct background checks, easily puts weapons in the hands of the vast majority of gun criminals. It is time to fix this broken system with passage of S.649 / H.R. 137, which will extend the current background check requirements to private gun sales, with dealers conducting the checks and keeping records the same way they have done for more than 40 years. Passage of these bills is the single most meaningful step you can take to stop senseless violence, honor all who have been lost to gun violence, and bring solace to survivors. On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism and its members across North America, I urge you to support these critical pieces of legislation.

Just as the prophet Isaiah exhorts the people of the earth to “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks,” so too do I urge you to vote for comprehensive and enforceable background checks and to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. As elected officials, it is your moral imperative to work to solve society’s problems. This is holy work and we are counting on you to do it, helping to shape a better and more hopeful world for us all. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Rick Jacobs

Obama in Connecticut: We Will Not Walk Away From Our Promises

Full transcript after the jump.
President Barack Obama: Let me begin by thanking Nicole, and Ian, for your brave words. I want to thank them and all the Newtown families who have come here today, including your First Selectman, Pat Llodra. Nobody could be more eloquent than Nicole and the other families on this issue. And we are so grateful for their courage and willingness to share their stories again and again, understanding that nothing is going to be more important in making sure the Congress moves forward this week than hearing from them.

I want to thank all the educators from Sandy Hook Elementary who have come here as well — the survivors —

Audience Members: We love you, Obama!

The President: I love you back. I do.

— the survivors who still mourn and grieve, but are still going to work every day to love and raise those precious children in their care as fiercely as ever.

I want to thank Governor Malloy for his leadership. Very proud of him. I want to thank the University of Hartford for hosting us this afternoon. Thank you, Hawks. And I want to thank the people of Connecticut for everything you’ve done to honor the memories of the victims — because you’re part of their family as well.  

One of your recent alumni, Rachel D’Avino, was a behavioral therapist at Sandy Hook. Two alumni of your performing arts school, Jimmy Greene and Nelba Marquez-Greene, lost their daughter, Ana — an incredible, vibrant young girl who looked up to them, and learned from them, and inherited their talents by singing before she could talk.  

So every family in this state was shaken by the tragedy of that morning. Every family in this country was shaken. We hugged our kids more tightly. We asked what could we do, as a society, to help prevent a tragedy like that from happening again.  

And as a society, we decided that we have to change. We must. We must change.

I noticed that Nicole and others refer to that day as “12/14.” For these families, it was a day that changed everything. And I know many of you in Newtown wondered if the rest of us would live up to the promise we made in those dark days — if we’d change, too; or if once the television trucks left, once the candles flickered out, once the teddy bears were carefully gathered up, that the country would somehow move on to other things.

Over the weekend, I heard Francine Wheeler, who lost her son Ben that day, say that the four months since the tragedy might feel like a brief moment for some, but for her, it feels like it’s been years since she saw Ben. And she’s determined not to let what happened that day just fade away. “We’re not going anywhere,” she said. “We are here. And we are going to be here.” And I know that she speaks for everybody in Newtown, everybody who was impacted.  

And, Newtown, we want you to know that we’re here with you. We will not walk away from the promises we’ve made. We are as determined as ever to do what must be done. In fact, I’m here to ask you to help me show that we can get it done. We’re not forgetting.

We can’t forget. Your families still grieve in ways most of us can’t comprehend. But so many of you have used that grief to make a difference — not just to honor your own children, but to protect the lives of all of our children. So many of you have mobilized, and organized, and petitioned your elected officials “with love and logic,” as Nicole put it — as citizens determined to right something gone wrong.

And last week, here in Connecticut, your elected leaders responded. The Connecticut legislature, led by many of the legislators here today, passed new measures to protect more of our children and our communities from gun violence. And Governor Malloy signed that legislation into law.

So I want to be clear. You, the families of Newtown, people across Connecticut, you helped make that happen. Your voices, your determination made that happen. Obviously, the elected leaders did an extraordinary job moving it forward, but it couldn’t have happened if they weren’t hearing from people in their respective districts, people all across the state. That’s the power of your voice.

And, by the way, Connecticut is not alone. In the past few months, New York, Colorado, Maryland have all passed new, common-sense gun safety reforms as well.

These are all states that share an awful familiarity with gun violence, whether it’s the horror of mass killings, or the street crime that’s too common in too many neighborhoods. All of these states also share a strong tradition of hunting, and sport shooting, and gun ownership. It’s been a part of the fabric of people’s lives for generations. And every single one of those states — including here in Connecticut — decided that, yes, we can protect more of our citizens from gun violence while still protecting our Second Amendment rights. Those two things don’t contradict each other. We can pass common-sense laws that protect our kids and protect our rights.

So Connecticut has shown the way. And now is the time for Congress to do the same. Now is the time for Congress to do the same. This week is the time for Congress to do the same.

Now, back in January, just a few months after the tragedy in Newtown, I announced a series of executive actions to reduce gun violence and keep our kids safe. And I put forward common-sense proposals — much like those that passed here in Connecticut — for Congress to consider. And you’ll remember in my State of the Union address, I urged Congress to give those proposals a vote. And that moment is now.  

As soon as this week, Congress will begin debating these common-sense proposals to reduce gun violence. Your senators, Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy — they’re here — your Representatives, John Larson, Rosa DeLauro, Elizabeth Esty, Jim Hines, Joe Courtney, they are all pushing to pass this legislation. But much of Congress is going to only act if they hear from you, the American people. So here’s what we have to do.  

Audience Member: I love you, Mr. President.  

The President: I appreciate that. Here’s what we’ve got to do. We have to tell Congress it’s time to require a background check for anyone who wants to buy a gun so that people who are dangerous to themselves and others cannot get their hands on a gun. Let’s make that happen.  

We have to tell Congress it’s time to crack down on gun trafficking so that folks will think twice before buying a gun as part of a scheme to arm someone who won’t pass a background check. Let’s get that done.

We have to tell Congress it’s time to restore the ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10-round limit for magazines, to make it harder for a gunman to fire 154 bullets into his victims in less than five minutes. Let’s put that to a vote.

We have to tell Congress it’s time to strengthen school safety and help people struggling with mental health problems get the treatment they need before it’s too late. Let’s do that for our kids and for our communities.

Now, I know that some of these proposals inspire more debate than others, but each of them has the support of the majority of the American people. All of them are common sense. All of them deserve a vote. All of them deserve a vote.  

Consider background checks. Over the past 20 years, background checks have kept more than 2 million dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun. A group of police officers in Colorado told me last week that, thanks to background checks, they’ve been able to stop convicted murderers, folks under restraining orders for committing violent domestic abuse from buying a gun. In some cases, they’ve actually arrested the person as they were coming to purchase the gun.

So we know that background checks can work. But the problem is loopholes in the current law let so many people avoid background checks altogether. That’s not safe. It doesn’t make sense. If you’re a law-abiding citizen and you go through a background check to buy a gun, wouldn’t you expect other people to play by the same rules?

If you’re a law-abiding gun seller, wouldn’t you want to know you’re not selling your gun to someone who’s likely to commit a crime? Shouldn’t we make it harder, not easier for somebody who is convicted of domestic abuse to get his hands on a gun?

It turns out 90 percent of Americans think so. Ninety percent of Americans support universal background checks. Think about that. How often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything? And yet, 90 percent agree on this — Republicans, Democrats, folks who own guns, folks who don’t own guns; 80 percent of Republicans, more than 80 percent of gun owners, more than 70 percent of NRA households. It is common sense.

And yet, there is only one thing that can stand in the way of change that just about everybody agrees on, and that’s politics in Washington. You would think that with those numbers Congress would rush to make this happen. That’s what you would think. If our democracy is working the way it’s supposed to, and 90 percent of the American people agree on something, in the wake of a tragedy you’d think this would not be a heavy lift.

And yet, some folks back in Washington are already floating the idea that they may use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms. Think about that. They’re not just saying they’ll vote “no” on ideas that almost all Americans support. They’re saying they’ll do everything they can to even prevent any votes on these provisions. They’re saying your opinion doesn’t matter. And that’s not right.

Audience: Booo —

The President: That is not right.  

Audience: We want a vote!

The President: We need a vote.

Audience: We want a vote! We want a vote!  

The President: We need a vote.

Audience: We want a vote!

The President: Now, I’ve also heard some in the Washington press suggest that what happens to gun violence legislation in Congress this week will either be a political victory or defeat for me. Connecticut, this is not about me. This is not about politics. This is about doing the right thing for all the families who are here that have been torn apart by gun violence. It’s about them and all the families going forward, so we can prevent this from happening again. That’s what it’s about. It’s about the law enforcement officials putting their lives at risk. That’s what this is about. This is not about politics. This is not about politics.

This is about these families and families all across the country who are saying let’s make it a little harder for our kids to get gunned down.  

When I said in my State of the Union address that these proposals deserve a vote — that families of Newtown, and Aurora, and Tucson, and a former member of Congress, Gabby Giffords, that they all deserved a vote — virtually every member of that chamber stood up and applauded. And now they’re going to start denying your families a vote when the cameras are off and when the lobbyists have worked what they do? You deserve better than that. You deserve a vote.

Now, look, we knew from the beginning of this debate that change would not be easy. We knew that there would be powerful interests that are very good at confusing the subject, that are good at amplifying conflict and extremes, that are good at drowning out rational debate, good at ginning up irrational fears, all of which stands in the way of progress.

But if our history teaches us anything, then it’s up to us — the people — to stand up to those who say we can’t, or we won’t; stand up for the change that we need. And I believe that that’s what the American people are looking for.  

When I first ran for this office, I said that I did not believe the country was as divided as our politics would suggest, and I still believe that. I know sometimes, when you watch cable news or talk radio, or you browse the Internet, you’d think, man, everybody just hates each other, everybody is just at each other’s throats. But that’s not how most Americans think about these issues. There are good people on both sides of every issue.  

So if we’re going to move forward, we can’t just talk past one another. We’ve got to listen to one another. That’s what Governor Malloy and all these legislative leaders did. That’s why they were able to pass bipartisan legislation.  

I’ve got stacks of letters from gun owners who want me to know that they care passionately about their right to bear arms, don’t want them infringed upon, and I appreciate every one of those letters. I’ve learned from them. But a lot of those letters, what they’ve also said is they’re not just gun owners; they’re also parents or police officers or veterans, and they agree that we can’t stand by and keep letting these tragedies happen; that with our rights come some responsibilities and obligations to our communities and ourselves, and most of all to our children. We can’t just think about “us” — we’ve got to think about “we, the people.”

I was in Colorado. I told a story about Michelle. She came back from a trip to rural Iowa; we were out there campaigning. Sometimes it would be miles between farms, let alone towns. And she said, you know, coming back, I can understand why somebody would want a gun for protection. If somebody drove up into the driveway and, Barack, you weren’t home, the sheriff lived miles away, I might want that security. So she can understand what it might be like in terms of somebody wanting that kind of security.  

On the other hand, I also talked to a hunter last week who said, all my experiences with guns have been positive, but I also realize that for others, all their experiences with guns have been negative.

And when he said that, I thought about the mom I met from suburban Chicago whose son was killed in a random shooting. And this mom told me, I hate it when people tell me that my son was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was on his way to school. He was exactly where he was supposed to be. He was in the right place at the right time, and he still got shot.

The kids at Sandy Hook were where they were supposed to be. So were those moviegoers in Aurora. So were those worshippers in Oak Creek. So was Gabby Giffords. She was at a supermarket, listening to the concerns of her constituents. They were exactly where they were supposed to be. They were also exercising their rights — to assemble peaceably; to worship freely and safely. They were exercising the rights of life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So surely, we can reconcile those two things. Surely, America doesn’t have to be divided between rural and urban, and Democrat and Republican when it comes to something like this.  

If you’re an American who wants to do something to prevent more families from knowing the immeasurable anguish that these families here have known, then we have to act. Now is the time to get engaged. Now is the time to get involved. Now is the time to push back on fear, and frustration, and misinformation. Now is the time for everybody to make their voices heard from every state house to the corridors of Congress.

And I’m asking everyone listening today, find out where your member of Congress stands on this. If they’re not part of the 90 percent of Americans who agree on background checks, then ask them, why not? Why wouldn’t you want to make it easier for law enforcement to do their job? Why wouldn’t you want to make it harder for a dangerous person to get his or her hands on a gun? What’s more important to you: our children, or an A-grade from the gun lobby?

I’ve heard Nicole talk about what her life has been like since Dylan was taken from her in December. And one thing she said struck me. She said, “Every night, I beg for him to come to me in my dreams so that I can see him again. And during the day, I just focus on what I need to do to honor him and make change.” Now, if Nicole can summon the courage to do that, how can the rest of us do any less? How can we do any less?  

If there is even one thing we can do to protect our kids, don’t we have an obligation to try? If there is even one step we can take to keep somebody from murdering dozens of innocents in the span of minutes, shouldn’t we be taking that step? If there is just one thing we can do to keep one father from having to bury his child, isn’t that worth fighting for?

I’ve got to tell you, I’ve had tough days in the presidency — I’ve said this before. The day Newtown happened was the toughest day of my presidency. But I’ve got to tell you, if we don’t respond to this, that will be a tough day for me, too. Because we’ve got to expect more from ourselves, and we’ve got to expect more from Congress. We’ve got to believe that every once in a while, we set politics aside and we just do what’s right. We’ve got to believe that.

And if you believe that, I’m asking you to stand up. If you believe in the right to bears arms, like I do, but think we should prevent an irresponsible few from inflicting harm — stand up. Stand up.

If you believe that the families of Newtown and Aurora and Tucson and Virginia Tech and the thousands of Americans who have been gunned down in the last four months deserve a vote, we all have to stand up.

If you want the people you send to Washington to have just an iota of the courage that the educators at Sandy Hook showed when danger arrived on their doorstep, then we’re all going to have to stand up.  

And if we do, if we come together and raise our voices together and demand this change together, I’m convinced cooperation and common sense will prevail. We will find sensible, intelligent ways to make this country stronger and safer for our children.

So let’s do the right thing. Let’s do right by our kids. Let’s do right by these families. Let’s get this done. Connecticut, thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.