Bullets do not discriminate

By OLIVIA BRAVO

COURTESY PHOTO BY OLIVIA BRAVO

My name is Olivia Bravo, and I am a gun violence prevention activist. As part of a program with the Friends Committee on National Legislation, I, along with 19 other young activists from a vast array of different backgrounds, will be lobbying this year for gun violence prevention and comprehensive gun control legislation in their respective states.

Being raised Quaker and still practicing, I was exposed to non-violent, tolerant ideals from a young age. These ideals, in many ways, drive my passion for reform. Above all else, I believe gun violence to be something that affects everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic class. Bullets do not discriminate. This is not a partisan issue, but a human issue. Guns take 109 lives from us daily. 

While I am lucky enough not to have a personal connection to gun violence, many of my colleagues do. Hearing their stories, as well as experiencing the nationwide aftermath of each life lost to us by senseless brutality is enough to ignite within me a fire of passionate revolt. I fundamentally refuse to accept that active shooters and mass killings are a part of our current reality. We — citizens, constituents, and especially young people — should  do everything in our power to protect individual lives and communities. While this issue is difficult due to all of the cultural and legal intricacies associated with it, we should be thinking about gun violence as a matter of national safety above all else. The phrase “Gun violence prevention” (as opposed to “gun control”) alludes to legislation which lessens the risks involved with gun sales, shooting, and general ownership. It makes clear that the government is not trying to take away guns. Instead, it is trying to improve the safety of American citizens.

COURTESY PHOTO BY OLIVIA BRAVO

As “Advocacy Corp” members, the 19 other activists and I will be pressuring Congressional representatives to pass two bills into law: S. 42 Universal Background checks in the Senate, and H.R. 1236 Extreme Risk Protection. Ninety percent of Americans, both gun owners and non-owners, support the implementation of these bills. Already, Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy have voiced their support for Senate Bill S. 42. H.R. 1236 Extreme Risk Protection Orders (or ERPOS), which allows families, community members and law enforcement to petition courts to restrict an individual’s access to guns, while simultaneously establishing a process for appeal. 

Vermont, as a state with an ERPO law, can issue final orders for firearm removal for up to six months. The new bill, H.R. 1236, requires that at least 25% of federal funding supports state efforts to educate law enforcement on effective implementation of this policy. House Representative Peter Welch has already co-sponsored this bill and it has recently been voted out of the House Judiciary Committee. For my part, I will be advocating in the greater Addison County area and urging members of the Vermont community to join in lobbying these foundational gun violence prevention measures. 

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