Letter: It’s time to stop the slaughter

March for Our Lives was an important first step


(Annabelle Tocco/ Daily Collegian)

By Opinion & Editorial Staff

All too many of us in this country have asked when the violence will stop. Turning on the TV, we’ve seen young children shot, like in Sandy Hook; teachers throwing themselves into a hail of gunfire to defend their students, like in Parkland and church-goers begging for their lives at the hands of a gunman instead of singing high praises for their God, like in Sutherland Springs.

Schools should be a place for learning, not for hiding under a desk. The pew is for prayer, not for dodging bullets. For these people’s deaths, we marched to demand our elected representatives commit themselves to the cause of ending the era of gun violence.

Background checks would be a start, banning suspected terrorists from gun purchases would be fantastic and stopping assaulters from getting their hands on a shotgun would be a godsend. Nearly all Americans agree: 97 percent back universal background checks. Yet, at the federal level, such policy is unconscionable.

There is no use mincing words. In the United States, killers with their legislative enablers are given free rein to unload their frustrations and their clips onto innocent people. Backed up by the beefy campaign donations of merchants of mass murder, these representatives sell not only their own souls, but the souls of countless victims of gun violence. This fight isn’t with reasonable gun-owners, 85 percent of whom support universal background checks, but with the industry that insists on selling weapons of war to those that commit civilian slaughter.

Heather Egeland Martin, a survivor of Columbine, told her story of that fateful day. There were 60 kids at choir practice, trapped in a small room for hours with fire alarms blaring; she told of the students taking “turns writing [their] names on the wall because [they] thought [they] were gonna die in there.” But the gun industry is unmoved by stories like these. It’s an industry which puts profits before people.

On March 24, Our Revolution UMass Amherst and other organizations participated in the Northampton March for Our Lives rally, where we heard stories of people’s experiences and showed our commitment to stopping further tragedies. We must march, and we must elect candidates un-beholden to merchants of mass murder — candidates like Casey Pease, a former University of Massachusetts student now running for State Representative in the 1st Franklin District. Unlike some elected officials, Pease has pledged to never accept campaign donations from the National Rifle Association, and he also supports reasonable and strong regulations to ensure safer gun ownership and public safety. Banning bump stocks, raising the age requirement for assault weapons and greater mandatory training were all cited as policies he supports. Importantly, he also raised the importance of maintaining effective background checks, an issue all the more important due to the millions of missing cases in the FBI’s gun background-check system, which precipitated the church shooting in Sutherland Springs.

We need people like Pease who are committed to making sure our schools no longer have such violence visited upon them. People who are committed to standing up to those who value the faces on a bill more than our faces and our lives. People who are committed to enacting the people’s will to stop the slaughter.



Will Harmer

Treasurer of Our Revolution UMass Amherst