I am heartbroken to hear the news of the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, yesterday. My heart goes out to the family and friends of those lost, injured, and those who endured this horrific event, although I know there are no words that can ease the pain they are experiencing.
We do not have to accept this moment, which we continue to repeat, as our norm. As acts of gun violence continue to increase in occurrence, it is imperative that our elected officials prioritize solutions that address the root causes of this violence. We must invest in mental health resources, education, and adequate standards of living for all to combat the profound sense of social isolation that has gripped many past perpetrators of gun violence in this country. We must no longer allow our elected officials—who are bought and paid for by gun lobbies—to prioritize their interests over the safety of their own constituents. And we have to resist those who wish to make the issue of gun violence a divisive tool to pit fellow Americans against one another. Many Oklahomans, both Democrat and Republican, support gun safety measures such as universal background checks, mandatory waiting periods, and closing the gun show loophole. We can protect the rights of responsible gun owners while ensuring the safety of our children and the general public, but it is going to take people from all sides of the political spectrum working together to do it.
Make no mistake—our gun violence epidemic is uniquely American. It is a problem we have created, and it is one we have to choose to fix. I grew up in the Columbine era at the beginning of this epidemic. I am among the first generation of students who saw bulletproof glass installed in our schools, regularly took part in active shooter drills at school, and had conversations with my mother—a teacher at my Oklahoma public school—about what she and my sister, who also attended our school, would do in the event of an active shooter situation and how we would communicate with and find each other in the event of such a tragedy. These drills and conversations were scary and scarring, and today’s children are unfortunately much more familiar with them. Enough is enough. We must take responsibility for this continued violence and come together to put sensible reforms in place to ensure these events are no longer part of the fabric of American life. And since our current elected leaders refuse to do what it takes to protect us, it is time to elect people who will.
As the next U.S. Senator for Oklahoma, I am committed to taking meaningful action to address the issue of gun violence in this country and to call out anyone who stands in the way of that progress, regardless of political party. Today, I challenge not only our leaders in Congress and state legislatures across the country, but also our community leaders, to do the same.