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Letter: A Call to Reduce Gun Violence

To the Editor:

Following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a group of Northern Virginia residents, Concerned Citizens Against Gun Violence (CCAGV), has been taking action to reduce gun violence in our nation. In February, CCAGV launched a grassroots effort to gather signatures to show our representatives in Congress that their constituents want action on reasonable measures to reduce gun violence. The group also rated McLean area state senators and delegates on their gun safety voting record and hosted a forum with statewide and local public safety groups to educate the public on measures to reduce gun violence.

A recent poll conducted by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 88 percent of voters in the 10th Congressional District support background checks and CCAGV’s results are consistent: 90 percent of the people we canvassed have signed the petition to our federal elected representatives urging them to support universal background checks for all gun purchases, limit magazine clip size to 10 rounds, and ban military-style weapon sales. More than 1,300 of Frank Wolf’s (D-10) constituents have so far signed this petition. (The houses we visit are not selected for voting history or party affiliation; our volunteers walk neighborhoods every weekend and knock on every door.)

These results should not surprise anyone. Poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans want common-sense gun reform that reduces the number of illegal guns on our streets and keeps guns out of the hands of those who are a danger to themselves and others. People understand that, rather than a means of protection, a gun often is an instrument of escalation, accident, and suicide. Most people we talk to have not realized that some 40 percent of gun sales are made without any background check, enabling militarized assault weapons such as the AR-15 rifle used at Sandy Hook to be purchased by virtually anyone. In the Virginia Tech massacre, Virginians witnessed the horrible consequences of weak gun laws that allow a person legally prohibited from purchasing a gun easily to obtain one.

Concerned Citizens Against Gun Violence is working with other community organizations including religious organizations, the Virginia Center for Public Safety, Million Mom’s March, March on Washington for Gun Control, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and Moms Rising. Every week, we send an email to individuals in the community with information and actions they can take to support local and national initiatives to end gun violence. Anyone who would like to receive these updates or support the activities of the CCAGV is invited to email ccagv01@aol.com.

Margot de Ferranti

McLean