Young people are sick of gun violence

Young people are sick of gun violence
© Greg Nash

Older adults like to say we’re apathetic, but we’re not. Millennials and Generation Z are paying attention, speaking up and leading movements. Rep. Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerOfficials say foreign governments should not investigate presidential political opponents Dem committee chairs blast Trump G-7 announcement Top Democrat holds moment of silence for Cummings at hearing MORE (D-N.Y), thank you for your leadership on gun violence. We see you and we appreciate you. 

On its first week back in session, the House Judiciary Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Jerry Nadler, held a markup of three new gun violence prevention bills: an extreme risk protection order bill that would allow judges to order guns taken from people thought to be a public danger, a bill that would outlaw large-capacity magazines and a bill that would bar those convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime from owning a weapon.

By the end of the day, the committee had voted to advance all three to the House floor. This week, Rep. Nadler will convene the committee once again for a hearing to discuss a bill that would ban assault weapons.

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For a country that has long been unwilling to take bold action on gun violence prevention, these past few weeks have finally felt like a step in the right direction. Young people in particular, who have led this movement for decades both in their own communities and on the national stage, have felt a renewed sense of optimism that the time and energy that activists have poured into making this country safer may actually produce change.

This issue is one that our generations understand better than any that came before us — gun violence has recently surpassed car accidents as a leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds. 

For this reason, the efforts of Rep. Nadler have not gone unnoticed by us. People have written in to say: Thank you, Rep. Nadler, for having our backs on this deadly epidemic. 

Rep. Nadler has been a consistent leader on the issue of gun violence prevention. Ever since the newly-elected Democratic House majority took office this past January, he has fought to ensure that gun violence prevention has remained a top priority.

In February, he led House efforts to pass two bills, a universal background check bill and a bill that would close the “Charleston loophole.” And, this summer, after the country was rocked by multiple deadly mass shootings — including at the Gilroy Garlic Festival where one of our own staff members had been just minutes before — Rep. Nadler knew that the legislation already put forward by the House was not enough.

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He called the Judiciary Committee back to Washington a week early to consider bolder solutions, and though that effort was ultimately delayed by Hurricane Dorian, he made it clear that he understands the severity and urgency of this crisis. 

Young people, especially black and brown community activists, have done the vast majority of the legwork on this issue and they are demanding that people in power take action. We need allies like Rep. Nadler in this fight — lawmakers who can translate the solutions we have developed into policy that will make a difference. 

Before we can move forward, we need the Senate to join the House by voting on and passing these bills. Disturbingly, however, half of our legislative branch of government, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Overnight Defense: Trump's Syria envoy wasn't consulted on withdrawal | McConnell offers resolution urging Trump to rethink Syria | Diplomat says Ukraine aid was tied to political investigations Partisan squabbles endanger congressional response to Trump's course on Syria MORE (R-Ky.), has blocked action that could save lives, and most recently, attempted to hide behind the sham excuse that President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Support for impeachment inches up in poll Fox News's Bret Baier calls Trump's attacks on media 'a problem' MORE must first grant them permission to act. Mitch McConnell has seemingly shown a blatant disregard for our lives. 

The bills moving in the House are the start of the conversation, not the end. We need an assault weapons ban that includes a buyback program to get these weapons of war off our streets, and we need to seriously grapple with the proliferation of handguns that are used in so many instances of everyday gun violence. 

Young people will represent 37 percent of the electorate in 2020, and we will not let our hard-won progress end as a result of Majority Leader McConnell’s obstruction. We have the passion, grit, and numbers to make a real difference — on legislation now and at the ballot box next November.

Brent J. Cohen is the executive director of Generation Progress, the youth arm of the Center for American Progress.