Latest News

Get guns, not hoodies, off the streets

Here's a thought: Instead of telling our kids to stop wearing hoodies, let's tell people to stop carrying guns.

It angers me that we've become obsessed with a zip-up hooded sweatshirt – something my kids wear to middle school every day – as if this piece of clothing killed Trayvon Martin.

We all know it was a blast to the chest from a semiautomatic handgun carried by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

We wouldn't be talking about hoodies, racism, stand your ground laws or the death of a 17-year-old boy if George Zimmerman wasn't among the 843,463 people licensed to carry a concealed weapon in the state of Florida. (A permit Zimmerman, 28, continues to possess, despite his shooting of the Miami teen and an earlier charge of assault on a police officer.)

Forget the hoodie. Let's talk about Zimmerman's self-loading pistol.

Or the pistol used last month by the teenager who killed three boys at Chardon High School outside of Cleveland.

Or the high-capacity ammunition clips that were purchased by the mentally disturbed man who killed six people, including a 9-year-old girl, when he targeted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona last year.

Or the handguns purchased by a man adjudicated mentally unsound who went on to kill 32 at Virginia Tech five years ago.

Let's talk about the fact that there have been no significant gun-control laws passed in this country in almost two decades, ever since the national assault weapons ban, which we willingly let expire while we were busy passing new laws that allow people to carry guns on trains and in national parks.

Don't shout me down about your Second Amendment rights. My natural right to liberty is threatened every day by lax gun laws, particularly in the Gunshine State, where anybody you pass on the street can be packing a piece in their clothing or purse.

It takes a felony conviction to keep a concealed weapon permit out of your hands here. Been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of violence? Wait three years, then we'll give it to you. You've had a prior domestic violence restraining order issued against you? That's OK, license approved. Have a long rap sheet, but no convictions? You're OK, too.

It sickens me that my children have been learning lockdown drills at school since they were old enough to hold a crayon. I don't want to hear that it's people, not guns, who kill. My kids aren't practicing how to hide behind a bookcase in their classroom because they're afraid of a person – it's the gun in that person's hand they fear.

The horrible truth is there's nowhere to hide from gun violence in this country. With more than 280 million guns in civilian hands in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one child or teen dies from gunfire every three hours. The Children's Defense Fund reports that gun violence has prematurely ended the lives of 110,645 children and teens in America since 1979.

That number would fill the new Marlins Park baseball stadium nearly three times over.

And only stricter gun laws – not dress codes – can change that.