AFSCME’s Saunders: It’s time to turn ‘anguish into action’ on gun violence

Source: American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union

AFSCME President Lee Saunders released the following statement about the gun violence epidemic after yet another school shooting this week:

“Once again this week, we are grieving the loss of innocent lives, including 19 children, in a mass school shooting. We extend our deepest condolences to the families enduring unimaginable heartbreak and to the entire community of Uvalde, Texas. Now, we must also turn anguish into action.

“AFSCME has long supported common-sense measures to keep our children safe and to keep deadly firearms out of the hands of dangerous people. We renew our call today for bold measures like expanded background checks and restrictions on the sale of guns to suspected terrorists and others who pose a danger to our communities. We need much bigger investments in mental health services and substance abuse treatment. We need enhanced school security measures – better infrastructure; more School Resource Officers; improved readiness training for teachers and school staff; and more. 

“The only way we will make change on this life-or-death issue is through the political process. If you are feeling anger and despair, the answer is to hold politicians accountable. The answer is to vote. The answer is to organize your neighbors. The answer is to support candidates at the federal, state and local levels who will take this crisis seriously, who will take the steps necessary to protect our children and our communities. 

“AFSCME members serve as school employees, emergency medical personnel, law enforcement officers and behavioral health professionals. In other words, we are on the front lines of this crisis. We have a lot at stake. We have expertise to bring to bear. And we will no longer tolerate a failed status quo that has tragic and deadly consequences.

“It is long past time to treat this gun violence epidemic like the urgent public health problem that it is. We can balance the rights of responsible gun owners with the right of students, teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, cafeteria workers, crossing guards and others to walk through the schoolhouse doors without fearing for their lives.

“Across the country, we will observe moments of silence this week to remember those who were murdered at Robb Elementary School, just as we did for the victims of the recent supermarket shooting in Buffalo, New York, just as we do seemingly every week. But when we engage on these issues in the political arena, we cannot be silent. We must speak out with clarity and conviction, with passion and resolve, to save the lives of our children.”