My daughter was murdered at her school: We need to elect leaders who support gun safety

The best way to defend democracy is to make sure we vote for candidates who support gun safety.

Fred Guttenberg
| Opinion contributor


“The most important election of our lifetime” was a phrase heard often in 2020. This is now a much more accurate statement.

In 2020, we needed to defeat one person who put democracy at risk. An entire political party and its governing philosophy have put democracy at serious risk. Watch, for example, the recent censure hearing of Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., or view the images of members of the Republican Party celebrating when the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict was reached, ignoring the deaths of two men.

Democracy in the United States is under siege, and this well-funded attack has deadly consequences. For me, that means my dream of passing gun safety legislation – a dream I’ve held since my daughter Jaime was murdered at school in Parkland, Florida – is at risk. We are now closer to passing common-sense gun safety legislation. But, at the same, we are closer than ever to losing any chance to do so.

We watched the blatant attack on democracy on Jan. 6. It is impossible to deny the reality of what occurred on Jan. 6. In spite of the evidence, Fox News, other media outlets and some out-of-touch members of Congress suggest otherwise.

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Republicans also refuse to deal with the devastating reality of gun violence in America.

This week, another American school was the scene of a deadly attack. At Oxford High School, Michigan, four students were killed and seven others were hurt. A 15-year-old student has been charged with terrorism and murder.

Republicans’ rhetoric is dangerous

Despite the plague of gun violence in schools and in our broader society, Republicans in Congress continue to speak in dangerous, irresponsible terms. The recent video released by Rep. Gosar depicting the murder of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, was intentional. Gosar’s video and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s dangerous behavior – including her use of imagery depicting an assault rifle aimed at three Democratic members of Congress – were clearly calculated.

Extremists in the House Republican Conference are ignoring the Constitution and putting our lives at risk.

While voters are frustrated, now is the time to make sure that we understand what is happening and what is at stake. It is important to vote for gun safety-minded candidates in order to defend democracy.

My view of where democracy stands right now is not partisan. It is an American perspective supported by those who are not afraid to speak up about the dangers posed by Trump and those who support him above all.

Democrats can pass gun safety legislation

If we are going to protect democracy, and protect our children with meaningful gun safety legislation, we must fully support President Joe Biden. Next year, we need to bring a Democratic majority back into the House and a clear Democratic majority into the Senate. We must get rid of this Republican Party version. However, we hope that there are still Republicans willing to work with us to protect our democratic government.

Since my daughter Jaime was murdered in the Parkland school shooting, our country has made some progress. We elected a president who supports gun safety, a gun safety majority in the House of Representatives and a Democratic-controlled Senate. A split majority in Senate is not enough without a commitment for the change to the rules of filibuster.

We have the ability through our vote in the 2022 election to strengthen democracy or to lose it.

The next election will not be about what we want to achieve. The next election will be about what we can and won’t lose.

Fred Guttenberg is a gun violence prevention advocate whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

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