Yet again the nation mourns for its most innocent. Seventeen dead at the hands of a young man who legally bought an AR-15 and who publicly fantasized about being the next school shooter.
This young man was not old enough to buy alcohol, but could easily buy a weapon designed to inflict multiple deadly casualties in the shortest amount of time.
Tragically, this is becoming commonplace. (This week it is our turn, right in our back yard.) Lawmakers must address the lack of controls on the deadliest of weapons that allows the deaths of innocent people and the heartbreak of families, a community and a nation.
I have long worked to advocate for common sense gun laws and responsible gun ownership as I watch my own community drown in gun violence and sorrow.
Now a mass shooting brings us into the national spotlight. We all must seize this opportunity to do what is right for our children.
A few months ago, I met with fellow elected prosecutors — we refer to our group as Prosecutors Against Gun Violence (PAGV) — in Washington to oppose bills loosening gun laws. PAGV is an independent, non-partisan coalition of 30 prosecutors representing major jurisdictions across the United States, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, New York City and Houston.
As prosecutors who deal with gun violence every day, we are concerned that by allowing more guns into our communities, in states that do not have basic background checks and safe guards, we add another layer of potential violence to our jurisdictions.
This is but one of the many things that must be addressed immediately by our national and state lawmakers.
While this unspeakable act has thrust us into the national spotlight, as someone who has sent considerable staff and resources into our neighborhoods to end gun violence and prosecute the perpetrators, I know first-hand that many mothers wait fearfully to hear the news, not of a mass school shooting, but of individual neighborhood gun violence that terrorizes their families daily.
Drive-by shootings with high-powered assault guns that are easily available are becoming a terrible fact of our everyday lives.
It is only the middle of February 2018, and we have already experienced scores of shootings at or near schools that put our children at risk.
Every single list of shooting fatalities includes child victims.
This is unceasingly sad. Too many young lives have been lost. Each of these victims and their devastated families had dreams; dreams that will never be realized. Seventeen-year-old David Hogg, a student at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School who survived the shooting, made a compelling statement:
“Please!” he said, “We are children. You guys are, like, the adults. Take action, work together, forget your politics, and get something done. This is the 18th one this year. That’s unacceptable.”
We Floridians, and particularly those of us here in South Florida who have been so personally affected by this latest unthinkable act, need to reach out to our lawmakers in Washington and in Tallahassee and demand common sense gun laws.
It’s time to be the adults.
Katherine Fernandez Rundle is Miami-Dade’s state attorney,