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"Sutherland Springs is a small town in Texas only 75 miles away, only a few country roads from my small town in Texas. We're not all that different really. We are both rural, close-knit communities, centered on agriculture and small business, where there are more cattle than people. We also loosely share a vast backyard of beautiful rolling landscape called the Hill Country. Even in name, Sutherland Springs isn't too different than my town of Dripping Springs, TX. So when tragedy struck my neighbors in the deadliest mass shooting in state history last week, it was truly close to home.
The day after the shooting, I wrote a song to cope with my feelings and perspective on the horror as it weighed heavy on me. It's not the first time I've written such a song in response to a mass shooting. I wrote a song after Representative Giffords and others were shot and killed in Arizona. I wrote one after Sandy Hook. And then one after San Bernardino. I wrote a song after a week of tragedies in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Minneapolis. Sutherland was different though. It was in my backyard.
I’ve always felt pain, compassion, and even anger toward these vile acts and actors unique to the American experience, but this one being just a short distance away elicited a greater sense of fear within. A fear that this really could of been my town, to someone I knew, even me or unspeakably, my own family. These are the fears that disrupt the pursuit of our lives. Our daily activities - our schools, concerts, churches, our malls, movie theaters, and post offices, our airports, restaurants, and our streets.
2017 has easily been the deadliest year ever for American mass shootings with 112 deaths so far, not including those killed in Rancho Tehama, California just moments ago as I write this. Nor does it reflect the countless others killed this year by gun violence not classified as mass murder, such as traditional homicides, domestic disputes, suicides, and accidents. As American citizens, we are actually 25 times more likely to be shot and killed than those citizens of other developed countries. Yet one of our greatest promised unalienable rights is the pursuit of life itself which is in fact why governments were created in the first place, to simply protect the lives of its citizenry. Not only does our government have an obligation to fulfill their very function and purpose, their part of the social contract, they also represent an American people who now overwhelmingly support common-sense gun legislation that would reduce the frequency and impact of these tragedies.
Sutherland Springs may be the first mass shooting to hit so close to home for me, but these massacres are happening everywhere across our country and they are close to home each and every time. As long as we give dangerous people incredible access to guns, Americans will continue to die and I will continue to write my songs. I will continue to support groups like the Brady Center that work tirelessly to promote the awareness and prevention of these acts of violence. I will also continue to call upon senators and congress to be instruments of reform and to champion a fundamental right, one that allows Americans to pursue their lives in peace, free from the fears that have become our reality."
Overview of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
For more than 40 years, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has been the leading national voice in the prevention of gun violence with an unrivaled history of success. The Brady Bill, which was signed into law in 1993, remains the single most effective gun violence prevention policy in history, with Brady background checks blocking more than 3 million sales of guns to prohibited purchasers such as domestic abusers, convicted violent criminals, and people with dangerous mental illnesses. In the words of President Bill Clinton, “countless people are alive today” because of the work of Jim and Sarah Brady and the Brady Center.
Brady has established the bold vision to cut U.S. gun deaths in half by 2025 through a strategy that focuses on the common ground shared by the overwhelming majority of Americans: keeping guns out of the hands of the dangerous people we all agree should not have them. Brady is committed to doing this through three focused, sustained, impact-driven campaigns:
1. “Stop ‘Bad Apple’ Gun Dealers” (BAGDs) by reforming or shutting down the small number of gun dealers who break the law, sell guns to dangerous people just to make a profit, and supply the criminal market with guns that are devastating communities across the country.
2. Public Health and Safety Campaigns that keep guns out of the hands of children and beat back the gun lobby myth that a gun in the home makes you safer through the ASK (Asking Saves Kids) campaign, Suicide-Proof Your Home, and TalkAboutGuns.org.
3. “Finish the Job” by expanding effective, lifesaving Brady background checks to all gun sales, including gun shows and online where thousands of gun sales in our nation go unchecked every single day. This policy solution is supported by 93 percent of the American people.