It is with profound sorrow and empathy that we try to understand and come to terms with the massacre that occurred at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day of all days. It is unthinkable that, once again, children and adults were shot and killed at a school, with at least 17 people dead and more wounded. We mourn for the victims and the survivors and reach out to all of their families who will be forever changed by this brutal act of violence.

This is not the first time this has happened in this country, and will not be the last, unless we do something to change our philosophy, culture and laws pertaining to guns. Our communities have not fully recovered from the Sandy Hook shooting; a memory that is brought to life again with each new school shooting — 18 this year and it is just February.

It is estimated that over 33,000 Americans will die this year alone from gun violence. In the next two years more Americans will be shot and killed than all the Americans that fought and died in the decade of the Vietnam War. Our children are dying at an alarming rate; it is unnecessary, unacceptable and inhumane.

An AR-15 was the weapon of choice used for the premeditated carnage at Newtown, Aurora, Orlando, Sutherland Springs and Las Vegas. Now the once peaceful town of Parkland joins the growing list of towns and cities that have fallen victim to murderers with access to such lethal weapons and virtually unlimited ammunition, that together allow civilians to take human life as easily and as quickly as possible.

Our thoughts are with the Parkland Community. But our focus is on legislators across the country to do something about the public health crisis of gun violence in America.

We support Florida’s effort to pass a ban on assault weapons and we demand that Congress do the same on the national level, as well as ban large capacity magazines.  We encourage citizens to ask legislators here in Connecticut to do everything they can to continue to keep our children safe; not with more guns, but with fewer.

Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We must do something now, with action, not words. We must be the catalyst for change. Our children deserve better.

Jeremy Stein is the Executive Director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence.

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