Tammy Duckworth: Members of Congress can show they care about Americans by passing an assault weapons ban

Gun Rights

Two-year-old Aiden McCarthy was lying bloodied and pinned underneath his unconscious father when he was found. Just a toddler, Aiden was still in diapers, had somehow lost one shoe and was down to just one blood-soaked sock, with scrapes across his body.

It was July Fourth, and Aiden was rescued from the site of the latest mass shooting that has marred our country and left scarred all those who bore witness to its senseless terror.

Advertisement

I was nearby when I first heard about the shooting. I rushed to the Emergency Operations Center and was there the moment the police came in and told us that two good Samaritans had found this young boy.

You Might Like

When Aiden was rescued, he kept asking for his parents. But tragically, we later learned that they were never going to be able to comfort him again, as his mother and father were among the seven people killed in Highland Park.

Advertisement

Irina and Kevin McCarthy — like so many of us — had spent that holiday morning eager to take pride in our country. Eager to celebrate America at its best.

Instead, they experienced the very worst of it. They saw firsthand what can happen when a sick fealty to the gun lobby is prioritized over American lives.

I woke up recently unable to get the image of Aiden’s one bloodied sock out of my mind. I got dressed unable to stop thinking about how his mom or dad had put on his diaper that morning, just like I’ve done thousands of times with my own two little girls. And I kissed my girls before sending them off to school thinking about how when the first shots of that military-style rifle rang out, his parent’s first thoughts must have been about saving him.

There are too many victims of preventable gun violence to name all of them here.

Think about that. Every time gun violence occurs, someone decides whether the number killed is worthy of breaking news graphics on TV, and too often the answer is no. Because there have been more mass shootings thus far in 2022 than there have been days in the year — and because we, as a country, have grown numb.

We witnessed that earlier this month in Chicago, as over the Fourth of July weekend Chicago’s death toll climbed even higher than the devastation seen in Highland Park. Yet there was no national outcry.

Advertisement

Every gun death is a tragedy that can and should be prevented. This is a uniquely American disease that requires a national solution. I’m pleading with my Republican colleagues to stop another day of patriotism, another math class, another trip to the grocery store from turning into a living nightmare.

I’m pleading with them to help prevent all that by passing the assault weapons ban again.

I spent 23 years in the Army, so I recognize a weapon of war when I see one. I know why you’d need to use them, and what they can do to a human body. I understand that the M4 carbine, the M16 rifle and their civilian variants, known as AR-15 rifles, were designed for the battlefield — designed to rip apart the human body to such a degree that your enemy can’t get back up and fire back at you.

So the first thing I thought when I heard the audio of the Highland Park tragedy was that it sounded like war. Because the last time I heard the sound of gunfire that rapid on the Fourth of July was when I was in Iraq.

I never thought I’d hear that on this holiday again, let alone here on U.S. soil. And I live in daily fear that my own daughters will be forced to hear that nightmarish soundtrack of war.

A few weeks ago, I talked to my older daughter’s class about Memorial Day — about the sacrifices our troops have made to safeguard our freedoms and rights, including our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As I was talking, I happened to look through the window of the classroom and see my younger daughter in the midst of a shelter-in-place drill, crouching down as small as she could get, her head against the wall.

Advertisement

She’s just 4 years old, and she was already being taught how to try to survive if someone with a weapon of war comes into the classroom where she’s learning her ABCs.

What I felt was close to horror. And I know other parents have felt the same.

We have to end this cycle. We can stop this cycle.

It’s not impossible. The first step is easy: Vote to ban assault-style weapons as soon as possible.

To any elected officials who object to passing this bill, I want to know how they can show off taking pride in our country on a holiday, then turn their back on its citizens just weeks later.

Advertisement

I want them to think about Aiden’s pleas for his mom and dad or the sound of the gunshots that those children in Uvalde, Texas, heard, and I want them to explain to those children why the dollars they get from the National Rifle Association are worth other Americans never seeing their loved ones smile again. I want them to explain how their fattened wallet is worth another parent having to bury their first grader in their favorite pair of Converse shoes.

Or, if they don’t believe those checks are worth it — if they don’t actually count their political self-interest as worth more than those Americans’ lives — then they need to show it, by passing a nationwide ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines before the next preventable shooting scars our country.

It’s that simple.

Tammy Duckworth is a U.S. senator from Illinois.

Submit a letter, of no more than 400 words, to the editor here or email letters@chicagotribune.com.

You Might Like

Articles You May Like

Primitive Trapping Tips – Tom Brown III
Editorial: Don’t need food trucks amid beauty of nature; Nuclear energy better option for clean power; Issue more complex than gun rights vs. control
UST Micro Spark Wheel – Perfect Fire Starter For Any Survival Kit
Mayor Ron Nirenberg says Abbott, Texas Legislature pushing back on common-sense gun reform
Smith & Wesson CEO faces backlash after he blamed politicians for gun violence

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.