Texas Gov. Greg Abbott deserves immense credit for his leadership in the immediate aftermath of the attack on students and teachers at the Santa Fe High School by one of their own community. In calling for conversations between a variety of interests and community representatives, Abbott showed he knows there is no single answer to preventing such criminal assaults. There are many perspectives. All voices should be heard.
After the attack on the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, my organization representing the firearms and ammunition industry worked with Sen. John Cornyn to advance the Fix NICS Act, which was passed by an overwhelming majority of both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Trump. This important bipartisan legislation fills in the gap in the records that allowed that murderer to pass a background check and illegally purchase firearms, despite having felony convictions and an involuntary commitment to a mental health facility.
We need to do more to safeguard our communities. We know the Santa Fe murderer was underage and prohibited from purchasing firearms. To commit his horrific crimes, he stole the type of guns that tens of millions of law-abiding Americans own. He illegally carried the firearms into a designated gun-free zone and horrifically murdered several of his classmates and a teacher.
No single piece of legislation can address the underlying societal issues that might encourage a teenager to commit such an unspeakable act of violence. Our society must discuss mental health resources, juvenile crime, enhanced school security, and training for educators willing to take responsibility for protecting themselves and their students.
We must discuss the role of the media and the effects gratuitous on-screen violence has on young viewers. We must discuss stiffer penalties for those who steal and commit crimes with firearms. We must have an honest discussion about our responsibilities to our children as parents. We must discuss gun owners’ responsibilities that come with the exercise of our Second Amendment rights.
Members of the firearms industry believe in effective solutions that will help make our communities safer. Our industry is focused on working to prevent the unauthorized access to firearms by children, criminals, the dangerously mentally ill and others who cannot be trusted to handle firearms in a safe and responsible manner. We believe that preventing unauthorized access to firearms of any kind at any time can help prevent accidents and deter thefts, suicides, and the criminal misuse of firearms.
Run on behalf of the firearms industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Own It? Respect It. Secure It initiative was built on our industry’s long-standing commitment to safety and developed to encourage firearm safety and responsible storage. It also amplifies the firearm safety message of our ongoing Project ChildSafe campaign, which has distributed more than 37 million free firearm safety kits, including gun locks, through partnerships with more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states.
We recognize safely storing firearms is only one part of the solution to this vexing problem. The vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding and responsible. We know they love their children and their communities and want safe schools.
Abbott is offering an honest new approach to solving the problem. Shouting, shutting out, and insulting those with whom you disagree hasn’t worked. We’re ready for the difficult conversations our kids deserve, the ones where we all come together with our best ideas for the benefit of all.