“Today was another sickening moment in American history as we watched a mass shooting unfold at an elementary school taking the lives of 14 innocent, beautiful children and one teacher. My colleagues and I are beside ourselves seeing another tragic, heinous loss of life and want to provide our thoughts and prayers to the parents of these victims in Texas. That said, thoughts and prayers are not going to change the public health crisis that is endemic in our country and killing our friends and neighbors. Mass shootings, defined by four or more people shot in one incident, occurred at a rate of more than two a day in 2021. These instances have killed more than 700 people and injured almost 3,000 in upwards of 690 separate incidents. These crimes and the guns being used in them are impacting our most sacred places- our schools, our places of worship, our grocery stores and our workplaces- giving society the haunting feeling that nowhere is immune to these disgusting acts.
When you start to peel back the layers of our gun violence epidemic in this nation, it is astounding to us regarding what we have seen become normalized in America. According to the Trace, there were more than 20,500 murders by guns in 2021 and if we add in suicides by firearm that’s another 24,000 deaths. And after taking that into account, 18.8 million guns were sold in this country in 2021, furthering this rampant disease that continues to grow at a rapid pace. To make matters even worse, six Republican state legislatures passed permit-less concealed carry laws for firearms in 2021, further hindering law enforcement and reducing public safety in our communities. In fact, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, in 2020 alone, 68,000 guns were recovered from crime scenes showing a clear correlation with gun crime and the nationwide rise in homicides.
Just yesterday, the FBI released a report stating, that active shooter events increased by 50% from 2020 to 2021 and it was less than two weeks ago that we watched a white supremacist gun down 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo, NY. Something has got to give; I think many of us believed that the U.S. Senate would act when 26 children and six educators were gunned down in cold blood in their Newtown, Connecticut elementary school almost10 years ago, but yet again, we have watched the majority of the Republican Party, U.S. Senators and the National Rifle Association rally to keep guns available and free-flowing through this nation while we as a collective community suffer the consequences of their inaction.
As a society, something has got to give, the state of New Jersey has been a prime example of good and thoughtful gun policies that protect residents and keep guns out of the hands of criminals, but we are just one state surrounded by others with extremely laxed policies. American families want change and want to feel safe when they send their children out of the house to learn, they want to feel safe when they go to pray and they never want to look over their shoulders when they enter a grocery store. We want these tragedies to stop, we want common sense federal gun regulations that will eliminate this horrific loss of life and we want Republicans to stop being obstacles to this change.”