We must protect nation's greatest asset

I have been a pediatrician here in Williamsburg for almost 37 years. As such, I am a “child advocate.” I speak for the health and welfare of children, a nation’s greatest asset. They will someday grow up to run our great nation.

We adults have let our children down. We have not protected them or kept them safe. Shame on us! As a society, we have marched to end wars. We have marched for civil rights. We have marched for women’s rights. We have marched for gay rights. But it took another horrible tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Valentine’s Day for us to march for our children. Shame on us! Thank God the surviving students of that school have taken it upon themselves to create this great nationwide “March for Our Lives.”

Most of us think that school shootings started at Columbine High School on April 20,1999, when a 17- and an 18-year-old young men killed 12 students and one teacher and injured 21 others before taking their own lives. But there have been students shot and killed in the country as early as July 26,1764.

Our 19th and 20th centuries have been plagued with numerous random school shootings, primarily by handguns. But everything changed with Columbine. Now our children are being attacked and slaughtered with semi-automatic firearms and assault rifles with “large magazines” that have no place in our society except in the hands of soldiers and police officers. These are weapons of “mass destruction,” machines designed for one purpose only: to kill large numbers of human beings!

Yet, the National Rifle Association and Congress condone these weapons by citing national crime rate data that states that only a small percentage of murders are caused by these weapons. Our school children represent the majority of that “small percentage of murders.” No child in this country should ever go to school and have their life taken away by a disturbed individual with one of these rapid firing weapons.

Do you know why we are in this situation? There are basically two reasons:

» It is too easy for people to buy guns. We must have stricter universal background checks. We must ban bump stocks and assault weapons. We must legislate and pass child access prevention laws that keep guns out of the hands of children.

» We have elected the wrong lawmakers to our government. The NRA has the Republicans in Congress in its back pocket. How can I say that? A nonpartisan “Center for Responsive Politics” estimated that during the 2016 election, the NRA and it affiliates spent a record $54 million to secure Republican control of the White House and Congress, including at least $30.3 million to help elect Donald Trump.

So when you go to vote in November 2018 and 2020, ask yourself two questions:

» How much money did this candidate receive from the NRA?

» Is this candidate “for” or “against” protecting our nation’s greatest asset, its children?

Enough is enough!

Dr. Maurice Graham

Williamsburg

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