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assault weapons

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By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

When is enough, enough? How many more innocent children have to be martyred before we take the blinders off and heed the call to action?!

Twenty-one additional families have to live with the profound sense of loss of life of those they have loved. Nineteen innocent school-age children and two teachers were massacred by a depraved 18-year-old, who was legally allowed to purchase two automatic rifles that are used for war, not hunting or innocent self-defense. How can the people that we have elected to lead us remain silent? By their silence, they demonstrate complicity!

Does a senator or congressperson have to have his or her son or daughter murdered before they have the guts to stand up for justice and speak out for common sense gun safety? This is not about denying any American citizen his or her second amendment rights — it is about ensuring the safety of all American citizens, no matter what their age.

When will those who lead us have the guts to lead and not be bought off by the gun lobby, the insurance lobby or any other special interest groups that do not care about the life and safety of ordinary Americans?

Many in power are not doing their jobs on both sides of the aisle. They need to be voted out of office this election cycle. The silent majority needs to stand up, be counted and act on behalf of the innocent.

Schools were always a safe place for children to grow, learn and have fun. Another student body of more than 600 students has been traumatized. How long will it take for them to move beyond their fears? Some will carry this trauma for the rest of their lives; it will impact their journey forever. Other students will have a chance to recover, but it will be a hard road especially since this poor Texan community does not have the trained mental health professionals to assist these students and their families. 

Will government step in? Who knows? It seems rather clear by all the school shootings in the past 10 years that the government and our leadership does not care! 

Every religious leader who reads this column, I pray you have the courage to challenge your congregation to give voice to this very important human life issue. Every child in America deserves to feel safe and be safe in every environment. We need to demand universal background checks and common-sense gun safety laws that will protect all Americans everywhere.

We also need to develop national protocols when a high school student is identified as a threat to the safety of his or her classmates. Mental illness in this country is out of control and untreated. Suspension and/or expulsion does not ensure safety.  Remember the Parkland massacre!

Our children are our greatest gift. May they never experience the trauma of Sandy Hook or Robb Elementary School. May we have the courage to move beyond our deafness. Our children are counting on us! 

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.