To the Editor:
As Feb. 14 comes and goes, most people are focused on Valentine’s Day. Although I am currently stationed all the way up in Kodiak, Alaska, I cannot forget the events that transpired Feb. 14, 2008.
I was in eighth grade at Clinton Rosette Middle School on that fateful day when our community was shattered, and five students from Northern Illinois University were taken from us in a violent attack at Cole Hall. I remember walking out those front doors at CRMS, looking to the sky, seeing the news helicopters, and asking my mother what had happened. In that moment, something that had only happened in faraway cities and towns came to our backyard and became a defining moment in my life.
Unfortunately, tragedies like what occurred in our hometown happen all too often in America. According to a list compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, at least 20 mass shootings occurred in America last year alone. At least one mass shooting occurred every month in 2018. While we remembered the 10th anniversary of the shooting at NIU, another mass shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This shooting claimed the lives of 17 teenagers and teachers and grievously injured 17 others.
It is a sickening reality that many of these shootings could have been prevented with expanded background checks. Many of the perpetrators of these tragedies exhibited warning signs that were ignored, but we can change that. The Parkland shooter exhibited warning signs on social media, yet was still able to buy firearms. In the Illinois House of Representatives, House Bill 888 will require those who wish to buy firearms to disclose their social media accounts to the Secretary of State Police. This might prevent someone wishing to do others harm from receiving the tools necessary to commit the next atrocity in our state. This is a step in the right direction that any sensible person should support, but we can do more.
I also call on U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger to support House Resolution 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. H.R. 8 will establish universal background checks on all firearms sales in the U.S., including private sales at gun shows and online.
Through this bipartisan bill, we might be able to prevent the next mass shooting and save lives. It’s time for us to take action to protect our family, friends, neighbors and fellow Americans.