A Message from the President of Americans Against Gun Violence
It was just over a week ago – a few days after the horrific mass shooting in which an 18 year old white supremacist targeted African Americans at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people and wounding three others – that I posted message concerning what had turned out to be a tragically prescient winning essay that a 9th grade high school student in Arizona had submitted more than a month earlier in our 2022 National High School Essay Contest. The prompt for the contest was the following statement made by the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger during an interview on the PBS NewsHour in 1991:
“If I were writing the Bill of Rights now, there wouldn’t be any such thing as the Second Amendment…. This has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat the word ‘fraud’ – on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
The student concluded her essay with the sentence:
We have to fight the deep-pocketed gun lobby, so our American future can be one where no one lives in fear of being gunned down at a supermarket.
And now, after yet another horrific mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas at the Robb Elementary School, in which another 18 year old shooter killed 19 fourth grade students and two female teachers, all of Latin American ancestry, it turns out that another winning essay submitted by a tenth grade student was also tragically prescient. The student’s essay was entitled, “Seeking Refuge,” and he wrote in his introductory paragraph:
“El sueño americano que me vendieron es una mentira.” “The American Dream they sold me is a lie,” I overheard my mother wearily mutter under her breath as she guided me through our vacant, dimly lit neighborhood streets. As we made our way to my elementary school for the first time, I could sense a lifetime’s worth of fear in the closeness with which she held me, not realizing she was protecting me from the gun violence that continues to ravage America today.
Instead of me paraphrasing the student’s essay, I strongly suggest that you read it yourself. And as you read the essay and think of the 19 fourth graders killed in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School and the two brave women who were mortally wounded trying to protect their students, I suggest that you have both a box of Kleenex and your cell phone handy.
As I wrote in my earlier message concerning the essay that presaged the Buffalo mass shooting, all 24 high school students who were chosen as winners in our 2022 essay contest, as well as many of the students who weren’t chosen as winners, “get” the fact that the misrepresentation of the Second Amendment by the gun lobby as guaranteeing an individual right to own guns is a “fraud” on the American public. And they also “get” the fact that by codifying this fraud into the U.S. Constitution in the rogue 2008 Heller decision – a decision that reversed over two centuries of legal precedent, including four prior Supreme Court opinions, in ruling for the first time in U.S. history that the Second Amendment conferred any kind of individual right to own a gun unrelated to service in a “well regulated militia – a narrow 5-4 majority of Supreme Court Justices effectively handed down a death sentence for tens of thousands of Americans annually. If these high school students “get it,” why don’t our elected officials, our federal judges and justices, and the vast majority of other Americans also “get it?” And if they do “get it,” why don’t they do something about it?
Please contact your elected officials today, including your state legislators, your members of Congress, and the President, to make sure that they “get” the fact that we need to overturn the rogue Heller decision and adopt stringent gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws that have long been in effect in all the other high income democratic countries of the world – countries in which mass shootings, including shootings on school campuses, occur rarely, if ever, and in which the overall rate of gun related deaths is, on average, one tenth the rate in our country. And please let your elected officials know that you not only expect them to “get” the fact that we need to overturn Heller and adopt definitive gun control laws, but that you expect them to openly advocate and do everything within their power to achieve these goals as expeditiously as possible.
Thanks for your support of Americans Against Gun Violence and our annual high school essay contest. And thanks for helping us show through actions, and not just words, that there are those of us in the United States of America who love our country’s children more than our guns.
Bill Durston, MD
President, Americans Against Gun Violence