In a recent presentation about gun safety, I was asked, “If most Americans support common-sense gun safety reform, why doesn’t it happen?”
The questioner wanted to know why elected officials, once safely in office, often ignore the voters who put them there.
I see two reasons: money and voting power.
First, money. The gun lobby and NRA exert an inordinate influence because they have the resources.
Second, voting power. In a democracy, money is distributed unequally, but the power of the vote is equally shared.
When voters are informed and engaged, and refuse to be divided by extreme positions on either side, their power overwhelms money. Voters who are not informed or engaged, or who are divided, exert diluted voting power.
The League of Women Voters of Florida supports four carefully researched positions on gun safety. They are:
- A ban on all semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.
- Comprehensive universal background checks.
- Opposition to any legislation that would expand the right to carry a concealed weapon or carry a weapon on a school or college campus, or to have open carry of weapons in Florida.
- Retrieval of firearms from anyone with restraining or protective orders and/or convictions regarding stalking or domestic violence against them.
A Herald-Tribune headline on Wednesday said, “Legislature nixes ban on assault-style rifles as students watch.” With an informed, engaged electorate that refuses to be divided, we can change this headline.
Carol Hartz, Gun Safety Chair, League of Women Voters of Sarasota County