By Annie Naranjo-Rivera, Vice Chair, Tillamook County Democrats
Please join me in supporting our kids at the #neveragain vigil on Saturday, March 24, 11 am at Second Street Plaza, Tillamook, followed by the #MarchForOurLives local rally organized by Tillamook High School students Saturday, March 24, at noon at Goodspeed Park to march to Tillamook High School.
I want to talk about our kids and our guns.
On March 14th, thousands of students across the nation participated in a “walk out” for 17 minutes, to honor the 17 people killed in the most recent mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. This student-led movement began with children who witnessed the shooting in their own school, lost friends, and felt moved to fight for action from Congress. Using the hashtag #enough, these students have started a larger conversation about how we can take immediate action to save lives, culminating in a major movement that cannot be ignored.
Why are these students protesting and why does it matter? In case it is not obvious, we have a gun violence problem. We are not talking about deer and elk hunting here, but about the systematic lack of oversight of the weapons of war leading to this public crisis. There are many statistics available, but I find it mind-numbing that on average every year*:
17,102 American children and teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, or by police intervention on average every year. 2,737 kids die from gun violence:
● 1,606 murdered
● 958 die from suicide
● 110 killed unintentionally
● 26 killed by legal intervention
● 36 die but intent was unknown
14,365 kids survive gun injuries:
● 11,321 injured in an attack
● 232 survive a suicide attempt
● 2,747 shot unintentionally
● 65 shot in a legal intervention
Let’s take on the epidemic of gun violence and call on Congress to enact legislation to keep us safer. We must take immediate action to enact reasonable gun-safety legislation. We need to demand background checks in all parts of the nation, and close loopholes that allow guns to get into the hand of our kids, paired with gun-safety education. Oregon Democrats in the legislature recently voted to protect victims of domestic violence from gun violence by closing a loophole in state law. This is the kind of leadership we need to see more of, at the state and national level.
As a mother of two school-age children, I personally would like to be able to send them off and not have to worry that I will receive a chilling call some morning telling me that the elementary school is on lockdown. For every child lost in a mass shooting, think of all of the students who live. Think of all of the parents waiting, praying, sobbing while the death toll is taken each time this happens. It could be any of us.
*The Brady Center averaged the most recent five years of complete available data from CDC