Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Politics & Government

Connecticut Shooting: "One Time Too Many"

"I was brought to the edge of tears," said Tim Stevens, co-convener of the Greater Pittsburgh Coalition Against Violence, as he recalled hearing the news of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults dead.  

Stevens said he was heartened by the comments by President Barack Obama who indicated a willingness to confront gun violence. Stevens, who is also chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), said the organizations are calling on the president "not to lose his emotional commitment to make a difference."    

He said they are urging city, county, state and federal officials "to be bold and courageous in confronting the sickness that has infected our local communities and the landscape of our nation for far too many years," said Stevens.  "It is time for gun legislation that will lessen the likelihood of more incidents of senseless deaths."

Stevens believes there is the will now to take action "because these are 6-year old children and 7-year old children who are still in the innocence of life.  It was a major statement to the nation that this is too much."

According to police, the gunman, 20 year old Adam Lanza, was armed with two handguns and a semi-automatic rifle.   Stevens says one logical step is to reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban which expired in 2004 after 10 years on the books. Similar proposals have been introduced since then but have not come up for a floor vote.

Stevens thinks the mass murder of children will lead to stricter laws.  "Even people who are A+ ratings with the NRA, some of them are saying 'it is time, it is time for some logical legislation and controls on guns,' " said Stevens.  "I feel almost without a doubt this is the moment.  This has never happened in the country with children and none of us wants it to ever happen again."

He said while citizens wait for lawmakers to pass laws to reduce "the unchecked flow of handguns into our communities," the Greater Pittsburgh Coalition Against Violence advises parents they can take their own safety measures including finding out if there are guns in the homes where their children play and if so, how the weapons are stored.

According to Stevens if everyone who has reacted to this unprecedented killing of children "does something" that will send a message to political leaders "and it will be a statement to ourselves, our families, a statement to those families in Connecticut who've lost their children and whose lives are altered forever."