Wilmot Collins: Universal Background Checks Will Keep Montana Kids and Families Safe

Written by Wilmot Collins, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and Mayor of Helena

(Ed. note – if you missed it check out Wilmot Collins interview on NPR from yesterday: Wilmot Collins on NPR)

The fact that moms across this country have had to form a nationwide coalition to bring attention to a crisis in our society says a little too much about what’s really going on in Washington D.C. And what’s going is a group of politicians who care more about NRA money for re-election campaigns than for the thousands of lives that are taken too soon because of gun violence.

How many more families will lose a loved one in a mass shooting or to gun violence? The political expediency of putting sensible gun legislation aside for a good NRA grade and donations, is a blight to our country.

And to be frank, it’s pretty sad when Montana’s junior senator, Steve Daines, can’t provide a 15 year-old student with an even sub-par answer on what he’s been doing the past four and a half years to make sure that she doesn’t have to worry about a mass shooting at her school. But this is the response we’ve grown accustomed to hearing from D.C. for the past 20 years.

Twenty years ago, I was a parent of a three-year-old boy and a seven-year-old girl. Twenty years ago, my wife hugged our children a little tighter before bed, as we watched on the news what we hoped would be a singular tragedy. The horrors of Columbine flashed across our TV screen and my wife Maddie and I, who had already survived unimaginable chaos of gun warfare when we fled Liberia, wondered if we would now have to worry about sending our kids into that same terrifying chaos when we dropped them off for school.

I’m certain that some parents reading this, have felt that same kind of fear and anxiety before. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the parents of children growing up in the only generation that spends more time worrying about hiding behind locked doors and under tables than wondering about what color shirt they might wear for school in the morning or who they will sit next to at lunch.

I’m sorry that “thoughts and prayers” are the only two things we are offered after a mass shooting. But I’m not sorry for standing with you in our plight to make sure that no other child falls victim to gun violence. I’m not sorry for saying that universal background checks should’ve been passed decades ago.

Background checks keep guns out of dangerous felon’s hands, those who have dangerous mental illness, or those folks who may be on a terrorist watch list. According to an Aug. 29 Quinnipiac poll, 93% of Americans support background checks. It’s the right thing to do, and according to this poll is the will of the people.

Most mass shootings are perpetrated by those with a history of partner family member violence. We must also ensure survivors of domestic violence are protected. We must have red flag laws to protect families.

I know the times we are living in are scary and feel almost surreal. I know at times waking up in the morning to get up and fight for change can be hard and tiresome, but we need to remember that it is on each and every one of us to be the change we wish to see. This is our moment to fight for the future we wish for our children.


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Nathan Kosted

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