I recently attended a meeting hosted by the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County that addressed the alarming number of school shootings in America. There have been 44 school shootings since the December 2012 Newtown, Conn., tragedy; 13 of those shootings have already happened in 2014.
The auditorium was filled with uniformed and decorated law enforcement personnel and leaders of the faith community gathered to listen to the speaker who was a first responder at a schoolhouse shooting in Lancaster, Pa. The discussion included preparation and medical response, and the speaker broke into tears as he described the crime scene and the emotional and mental impact a school shooting has on first responders as well as on families and communities.
As a parent and a Monmouth County resident, I was glad to see our brave law enforcement community and faith community taking proactive steps for the safety of our children. However, as our law enforcement and faith communities prepare to respond to the possibility of a school shooting incident, what are we doing as parents to prevent an incident from happening?
One step parents can take in the safety of our children is to contact our congressmen and ask them to support expanded background checks on a national level. These background checks would help keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill, rapists, domestic abusers and felons, as well as terrorists.
We need Congress to support and pass the bipartisan Toomey-Manchin bill (HR- 1565) to establish a stronger national system of background checks. New Jersey already has a strong background check system in place, and passing HR-1565 would not additionally impact New Jersey gun owners, but it will reduce the number of illegal guns that are trafficked into our state.
New Jersey is currently the No. 1 importer of illegal guns in the United States. Criminals and individuals who would sell guns to criminals go to other states with weaker laws to get guns.
This undermines New Jersey’s sensible gun laws. HR-1565 requires closing the Internet and gun show loopholes which allow buyers and sellers to take advantage of blurred guidelines; up to 40 percent of guns are sold without any ID requirement, and felons have admitted to sourcing weapons in this way.
The support and implementation of HR- 1565 is an important first step in combating the epidemic of gun violence in America; it is a “no brainer” and all of New Jersey’s congressmen should support it.
As parents and grandparents, we must do our part as “first responders” for the safety of our children. I urge Monmouth County residents and all concerned New Jerseyans to contact their congressmen and ask them to support HR-1565 for expanded background checks in the United States.