With Our Voices and Our Votes: Advocating Gun Control

By Nickitas, Donna M. | Nursing Economics, March/April 2013 | Go to article overview

With Our Voices and Our Votes: Advocating Gun Control


Nickitas, Donna M., Nursing Economics


EVERY DAY, ABOUT 80 Ameri - cans die from gun violence, and several times as many are injured (Kristof, 2011). This is a public health crisis that warrants our collective attention, including our voices and our votes to demand our elected officials in Washington, DC, take immediate action to reduce gun violence in America. In his second inaugural address, President Obama reminded us about the powerful influence citizens possess when he stated: "You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country's course. You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time - not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we liftin defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals" (Obama, 2013). As I pondered President Obama's words, I was reminded that, as a registered professional nurse, I am obligated to use my voice to protect and promote the well-being of society. The moral and ethical imperative of nursing is to serve society and care for all humanity (American Nurses Association, 2010). There is a place for nursing and for nurses to become a part of the nation's conversation on gun violence and to advocate for a public policy that protects and secures the safety of its citizens.

As a citizen of the state of Connecticut where the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School occurred in which 20 children were killed, I will use my voice and vote to advocate for gun control. The level of human suffering and loss is too unbearable, not just in Newtown, Connecticut, but in cities and towns all across America.

Understand the Facts

The loss of life and the impact of gun violence on American society was recently summarized by Mark Shields, political analysis, on the PBS NewsHour, when he stated, "Martin Luther King was 39. Robert Kennedy was 42. That's - 42 years after their being shot. Since then, 1,260,703 Americans died in firearms - by firearms. In the total history of the United States in every war, in the Revolutionary, all the world's wars, 659,000 Americans have died in combat, twice as many in one-fifth the time" (PBS NewsHour, 2013). Why are Ameri cans dying at such a high rate as a result of gun violence? In a new comprehensive study by Mayors Against Illegal Guns (2013) conducted over the last 4 years, the study reveals the following facts:

* Less than 1% of gun murder victims were killed as part of incidents with four or more victims.

* In at least 40% of the incidents, the shooter killed a current or former spouse or intimate partner.

* Assault weapons or high-capacity magazines were used in 28% of the incidents, and when they were used, more than twice the number of people were shot and 50% more were killed.

* No more than 33% of the shootings occurred in public spaces that were so-called "gun-free zones. …

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