Throughout my life, I have sought to build bridges between people, seeking to help both sides uncover common ground. With civic initiatives like Starts With Us, I have aimed to encourage respectful hearty discourse and to promote listening to each side’s arguments with an open mind.
Across the range of issues our nation faces, both the left and right have frequently demonstrated significant blind spots, tending to favor positions that are popular within their bases without thinking critically about what is best for our country and/or what can be accomplished through the legislative process. Appealing to partisan extremes does not lead to actual solutions.
On the issue of gun laws in America, some 90% of Americans (including 77% of Republicans) agree with basic common-sense steps to protect our children and our society, yet much of the Republican political leadership seems captive to special interests, and some of its base continues to be manipulated by its messaging.
I am a fervent supporter of the right to bear arms and the Second Amendment. My father, who had experienced the horrors of the Holocaust, taught me and my siblings about the importance of self-defense. But most serious gun law reform proposals in no way undermine the Second Amendment or threaten the lifestyle of the many Americans (including dear friends of mine) who enjoy hunting or target shooting – or who want, or need, to protect themselves and their families.
Universal background checks, permitting, licensing and other reasonable restrictions on the sale of automatic and semi-automatic weapons can and must be designed and implemented as a first step to reduce America’s epidemic of mass shootings, including school shootings like the one that killed 19 young children and two of their teachers in Uvalde.
The United States is home to 4% of the world’s population but 41% of gun shooting murders (and Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed in a gun homicide than people in other high-income countries). This is not normal or acceptable. We can do better as a society.
There are many other things we need to do, including investing in mental health, combatting depression and isolation, helping overcome the noxious impact of social media cyberbullying, teaching resilience to children, fighting the opioid epidemic, lending a hand to those left behind, and much more.
But we ALSO need to pass reasonable restrictions so that mentally unstable or criminally violent men (most gun homicides are committed by men, and mostly young men) are no longer able to legally acquire weapons that can kill scores of innocent people.
Yes, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” but most often people use guns to kill people. Even in Israel and Switzerland, where military service is mandatory and guns are issued to a big percentage of the population, reasonable permitting and registration restrictions exist.
It’s time to put partisanship aside and to start thinking – and acting – on our kids’ behalf.
Today, we launched a 2:1 matching program across KIND, Equilibra, Starts With Us, Empatico, and the OneVoice Movement teams, the majority of whom live in the United States and many of whom have young families. Team members can make donations to the following organizations that will be matched 2:1 by The KIND Foundation’s Charitable Gift Matching Program:
National Organizations: These organizations are working at the national level to reduce gun violence, promote gun safety, and advocate for gun legislation reform:
- Sandy Hook Promise: The mission of Sandy Hook Promise is to end school shootings and create a culture change that prevents violence and other harmful acts that hurt children. Through proven, evidence-informed Know the Signs programs and sensible, bipartisan school and gun safety legislation, Sandy Hook Promise teaches young people and adults to recognize, intervene, and get help for individuals who may be socially isolated and/or at risk of hurting themselves or others.
- Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund: Everytown for Gun Safety is the education, research, and litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety. The organization researches the causes of gun violence and strategies for reducing it, educates lawmakers on evidence-based policies to save lives, and communicates this knowledge to the public.
- The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The Brady Center’s mission is to unite all Americans against gun violence, working across Congress, the courts, and communities with over 90 grassroots chapters.
- Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence: The Giffords Law Center educates advocates, legislators, and the media on the facts about the crisis (gun reform, gun safety, gun laws) and solutions that will solve it. The team of experts researches, drafts, and defends the laws, policies, and programs proven to reduce gun violence.
United Way of Buffalo & Erie County Buffalo Together Community Response Fund: Those interested in supporting the Buffalo community can have their donations matched to the Buffalo Together Community Response Fund, a fund created by the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, in partnership with the Community Foundation for Grater Buffalo and many other philanthropic partners, to address the immediate and long-term needs of the community.
San Antonio Area Foundation Uvalde Strong Survivors Fund and Uvalde Strong Fund: Those interested in supporting the Uvalde community can have their donations matched to both the Uvalde Strong Survivors Fund and the Uvalde Fund at the San Antonio Area Foundation. The Uvalde Strong Survivors fund was established to provide direct financial assistance to the survivors of the deceased and those directly affected by the tragedy. The Uvalde Strong Fund is an emergency relief fund to support area nonprofits providing assistance, including mental health services, in the Uvalde Community.