Our gun violence epidemic is a uniquely American problem. But Americans have the expertise to solve it | Opinion

Orange-clad advocates rally in the Capitol Rotunda during a Gun Violence Awareness Day event (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

By Marilyn Mulvihill

America is a great nation, problems and partisanship notwithstanding. Last month, a delegation of diplomats from China, as part of a U.S. cultural immersion tour, met with leaders from the the Pennsylvania Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

There, we introduced the diplomatic delegation to our uniquely American public health and safety epidemic: gun violence.

The foreign diplomats learned that:

  • every day nearly 100 Americans are killed by guns and hundreds more are injured.
  • two-thirds of those victims die by gun suicide, and our American service veterans comprise a disproportionate number of those suicide deaths.
  • women in the US are 25 times more likely to be killed by gun violence than in other high income countries.
  • firearms are the second leading cause of death for children and teens in America.

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Pennsylvania’s Moms Demand Leaders also shared evidence-based, nonpartisan solutions to America’s gun violence crisis including:

  • Closing the deadly loopholes in background check systems that allow minors and dangerous people like felons and domestic abusers easy access to guns.
  • Promoting gun safety so that American children will no longer be exposed to unacceptable levels of risk.
  • Supporting reasonable limits on where and when loaded firearms are carried in public.
  • Creating enforceable laws that address gun trafficking and fraudulent purchasing to keep illegal guns off our streets.

Three specific, and broadly supported, legislative initiatives to enact these goals that Moms Demand Action supports are:

Red Flag Laws ( Extreme Risk Protection Orders): All too often after an act of gun violence, families will point to warning signs.  We can’t prevent every tragedy but we can give the people who are in a position to see these signs a way to intervene.  Red flag laws would allow families or law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily suspend a person’s access to guns if there are clear signs of danger.

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Background checks on all gun sales: It’s long past time for Congress to address gun violence by updating the background check law to require checks on all sales helping to keep guns out the wrong hands.  96% of Americans support this effort.

Restoring funding for gun violence research: Just as other epidemics receive funding, the gun violence epidemic needs research.  Congress must allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on firearm deaths and injuries by renewing funding.

There’s a well-documented link between guns and suicide. Just what Pennsylvania should do about that is up for debate

Only in America do we have this unique problem of gun violence. But we Americans have never backed away from a problem and gun violence is no different. Join the nearly 6 million Moms Demand Action volunteers for common sense change to keep communities safe from gun violence at: momsdemandaction.org. Or text “Ready” to 644-33.

Marilyn Mulvihill is the  Pennsylvania State Communications Lead for  Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.