Alvin Brown: “Inaction is not an option”

By Alvin Brown

Special to the Outlook

Like so many parents, my kids – two high school boys – were my first thought upon hearing of the heartbreaking Parkland tragedy. School, of all places, should be a safe haven. Our schools should be a place we feel certain is safe when we take our children to school each morning. We should never have to worry whether our children will return from school. Not only should schools be safe havens, but places of worship, movie theaters, and our neighborhoods should be safe. We can and must do better.

In the days that followed Parkland, “leaders” in Washington and Tallahassee wasted no time pointing fingers. Some blame mental health – yet support budgets that gut funding for critical programs – while others cowardly hide from constituents who deserve answers on what, specifically, they’ll do to prevent another mass murder on their watch.

Fortunately, people aren’t accepting the same tired excuses. I am heartened by the courageous young people who’ve descended on Tallahassee and walked out of school demanding action. Students who lost friends, classmates and teachers days ago are shaping the national conversation, doing countless media interviews and dismantling arguments from extreme right-wing trolls spreading misinformation online, all while holding elected officials accountable. This is what democracy looks like, and I’m proud to stand with them in the fight to make communities safer.

This moment of reckoning begs the question: in what kind of country do we want to live? Are we content maintaining the status quo? I for one am not. The gun violence crisis has plagued our country for far too long, and we must make meaningful, common-sense reforms to prevent massacres like Parkland from happening again.

To begin, weapons of war have no place on our streets. Banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines is long overdue. These dangerous, military-style weapons should not be available to civilians.

Shamefully, the Florida House voted against the very discussion of an assault weapons ban, as Parkland survivors watched. This comes as no surprise given the NRA’s long-held grip on the State Legislature. When my opponent was in the House, he proposed a law requiring a gun in every Florida home, leading a newspaper to label Lawson’s idea: “gun out-of-control.” It’s these types of misguided proposals that endanger Floridians.

Politicians cannot take NRA money and pretend to have children’s best interest at heart. I pledge to reject gun lobby contributions and support banning Members of Congress from accepting the industry’s blood money.

We must get rid of laws that make it far too easy for dangerous people, including domestic abusers and those with restraining orders, to get their hands on guns. It’s past time to close the gun-show loophole, establish universal background checks, and research gun violence as the public health epidemic that it is.

We have a moral obligation to ensure our children’s safety. Let’s move with commitment and strong conviction to see this through so that this horrible tragedy will never happen again. Inaction is not an option.

Alvin Brown served as the Mayor of Jacksonville from 2011-2015 and is currently running to represent Florida’s 5th District in Congress. The 5th Congressional District includes Baker, Gadsden, Hamilton, and Madison Counties as well as parts of Columbia, Duval, Jefferson, and Leon Counties.

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