Statement of DPMC Chair Sachin Chheda:
The nation is grieving. As President Obama said today, “Our hearts are broken.” We are shattered by the horrific scene in Connecticut. At this writing, at least 20 children and 6 adults are dead from a murderous rampage by a gunman in a “safe” and sedate elementary school.
Of course, we cannot imagine the pain of the victims and their families. There are no words that will offer enough comfort to those facing these losses. All we can ask is that they please believe that the American people stand with them.
But gathered together as members of a political party, we can offer solutions. Today is the day for the nation to confront what we might have done to prevent this act of terrorism – and what we must do to prevent future massacres of innocents in our schools, places of worshop and workplaces. Local law enforcement has called for respect for the families’ privacy. So rather than looking into these families’ pain, let’s instead live up to our responsibility to examine what has become of our country, the greatest on earth, yet one in which more than 10,000 people a year die from gun violence.
We don’t have all the details yet about what happened today. There are conflicting reports. But this much is clear: According to Fox News, “Authorities say at least 26 people, most of them children, were killed when a gunman clad in black military gear opened fire inside a Connecticut elementary school.”
Twenty dead kids. Shot dead by one man in just minutes.
Today is the day to confront some harsh realities. Whatever the circumstances, whatever mental illness the gunman did or didn’t have, one thing is true – he could not have killed 26 people in just minutes with his bare hands, or with a knife.
Policymakers, led in our state by extremist Republicans, have done everything they can to make it easier for criminals and the mentally ill to get their hands on guns. Even the minimal training requirements for those who would carry concealed weapons, proposed by pro-gun Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, were stripped by Republican legislative leaders in committee.
And today in Wisconsin, there is no meaningful background check for thousands of gun sales. We allow the sale of high-capacity magazines, and assault rifles that can spew hundreds of rounds a minute.
The time for discussion has passed. It’s time to take action. It’s time to stop the fear mongering of gun companies who manipulate gun owners to increase sales, and politicians who exploit gun owners for votes.
I’m the chair of the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County, but more importantly, I’m a parent of three children in public elementary and middle schools. I’m the father of a six-year old who comes home sometimes to tell us of “lockdown” drills and Code Reds and what she would do if a “robber” comes to the school.
It’s simply not acceptable. For politicians of any party, you are on notice. Take action, or you’ll lose our support. This is beyond politics. This is confronting insanity.
How many massacres by those armed with guns must we face? In Wisconsin, we’ve had two in recent months, including one carried out by a gunman who just days before had a restraining order placed. How did he get a gun? When is enough, enough?
Today is the day.
No one is talking about banning all guns. But we can take these simple steps, which have broad support from Democrats, Republicans and independents:
• Meaningful background checks for every gun sale.
• A ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
• Real measures to prevent criminals, those with mental disabilities, and those who have threatened others, from owning or buying guns.
• Serious consequence for those who make illegal sales, or who stand idly by when those sales are made.
Today is the day.
Our hearts go out to the victims. And our heads say, “no more.”
Today is the day.
The Democratic Party of Milwaukee County is an all-volunteer organization, and serves as the local chapter of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Democrats value broad prosperity, mutual responsibility, effective government, a better future, and a stronger America.