RDSCF0057Newtown Connecticut massacre last Friday is the 13th of the mass shooting in 2012. From twelve people killed in a movie theater in Colorado in July to six worshippers shot down at Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in August, such public shooting incidents have become far from rare.

The fact that young children were made target of this massacre has sent shock waves in the community, the nation and around the world. The frequency, scale and devastation of these horrific incidents will hopefully revive the gun control debate that has yielded little changes in the past decades.

America is very much a gun culture. Private citizens own some 300 million pistols, revolvers, rifles and shot guns. The right of the people to keep and bear Arms is protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution which has a historical link to the English Bill of Rights of 1689. The English Bill of Rights emerged from a tempestuous period in English politics during which two issues were major sources of conflict: the authority of the King to govern without the consent of Parliament and the role of Catholics in a country that was becoming ever more Protestant. The text of the English Bill of Rights of 1689 includes language protecting the right of Protestants against disarmament by the Crown(1). Similarly the Second Amendment enables the American people to organize a militia system and deter the Federal Government in case it turns undemocratic. Since its adoption on December 15, 1791, the chance of that ever happening is as unlikely as the sun rising from the west, but the law has been preserved, embraced and interpreted to protect an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

But why would ordinary citizens need automatic and semiautomatic assault weapons for self-defense? Has America’s obsession and slavish love for guns gone way too far and too dangerous?

The data from a 15-year old report from the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI) indicated that in 1988, the gun industry sold $31 billion in goods in the U.S., while Coke sold $28 billion globally. There are more than 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers in the United States, according to the latest Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives numbers (as of Aug. 1). Of those, 51,438 are retail gun stores, 7,356 are pawn shops and 61,562 are collectors, with the balance of the licenses belonging mostly to manufacturers and importers of firearms and destructive devices. The number of McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. is approximately 14,000. Needless to say, the gun industry is hugely profitable and powerful. According to a 1999 Fortune survey, lawmakers and congressional staffers considered National Rifle Association of America (NRA) the most influential lobbying group. NRA advocates for the protection of the Second Amendment and the promotion of firearm ownership rights.

So is meaningful and lasting gun control reform possible in America? The Australia government announced nation wide gun law reform within 12 days after the April 1996 Port Arthur massacre that killed 20 innocent people. In addition to passing the new legislation, the Australia government also funded gun buybacks, plus large-scale voluntary surrenders. In the years after the Port Arthur massacre, the risk of dying by gunshot in Australia fell by more than 50% — and stayed there. In the 16 years since the announcement of legislation specifically designed to reduce gun massacres, Australia has seen no mass shootings(2).

The stage has been set for gun law reform in the U.S. by what just happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the outcome of the last election in which a significant number of candidates endorsed by NRA lost.

Guns are killing our children, our neighbors, terrorizing our community and nation. Six teachers took the bullets in defending our children. This is the time for us to act. Contact your lawmakers and urge them to pass new legislations to ban assault weapons and prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. Ask them to vote from their hearts rather than where the money is to finance their next election. Make donations to the anti-gun lobbying organizations such as Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (BCPGV) in order to undermine the voice of NRA.

Over the weekend, I held Jake a little longer and we cuddled a few more times than usual. Simply can’t imagine the pain and grief the families who have lost their little ones and loved ones in the massacre are going through. Our hearts and love go out to them. I also deeply feel for the 5, 6 or 7-year-olds who had to witness the bloodbath. This is going to leave deep marks on their young and vulnerable brain. We have no choice but to ensure that their world will be safe and as a result they will be safe.

I’ve received emails this morning from friends calling for action. NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT!