We need common sense resources on gun safety and mental health

UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía testified today at the People’s Filibuster for Gun Safety in Washington, DC. Here are the remarks of his testimony as provided at the session, which included a message in Spanish.

UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía testifies at the popular gun safety filibuster on Capitol Hill.

I am Janet Murguía, President and CEO of UnidosUS, the largest national Hispanic advocacy and civil rights organization in the United States.

The Latino community is still reeling from the hateful mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and most recently in Uvalde, Texas just a few weeks ago. Nineteen young children and two of their teachers, almost all of whom were Latinos and Latinos, were brutally murdered in their classroom on what was one of the last days of school.

Protecting our children and helping them deal with the consequences of such violence is of paramount importance to our community across the country.

As such, Hispanics have a vital interest in ensuring that our country takes long-overdue steps to address the epidemic of gun violence. Nearly 20,000 Latinos are injured or killed each year by firearms, and Latino children are three times more likely to be killed by gun violence than white children.

In the aftermath of yet another shooting — the 2016 murder of 49 people, including 36 Hispanics, at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida — UnidosUS has announced its strong support for strong, sensible gun action. We called for an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, and other reasonable restrictions on the acquisition of firearms and ammunition consistent with protecting the civil rights of all Americans, improved federal government gun violence data collection and analysis, and increased mental health supports.

In the wake of Uvalde and Buffalo, we call for additional security measures to help stem future mass shootings, including:

  • red flag laws
  • fill gaps in background check laws
  • safe storage laws
  • and raising the purchase age for assault weapons from 18 to 21.

While modest, we believe the recent bipartisan agreement in the Senate is a good first step toward implementing some of these long-awaited policies.

However, we also strongly believe that recognizing gun violence as a public health crisis must be an imperative for change. We support strong support for mental health services that not only help reduce threats, but also help support communities dealing with the harms of gun violence.

And given our experiences in Orlando and El Paso, it is critical that these mental health services be linguistically and culturally competent, as language barriers and cost have been barriers to care for many Latino children and adults.

We cannot allow future generations of children to die or suffer lifelong mental and physical health effects from unchecked gun violence. We must do everything we can to prevent the next Uvalde or the next Buffalo.

After so much horror and trauma, we must – and can – act to heal now and change our future. We must do all we can to embrace every community that is suffering.

We need to act now, starting with common-sense gun safety measures and mental health resources that protect our children and give us all a safer future.

Las familias de Uvalde siguen presented en nuestros pensamientos y oraciones.

Necesitamos ayudarlos a ellos ya otras comunidades en nuestro país para que puedan sanar.

Y debemos trabajar para cambiar nostros futuros.

Necesitamos action ahora, comenzando con reformas sensatas en nuestras leyes sobre armas de fuego y recursos de salud mental que protejan a nuestros niños y nos den a todos un mañana más seguro.

Thanks a lot.

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