It was December 2012, and 20 kindergartners and first graders had been murdered in their classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It was as heartbreaking as it was senseless.
It was then that we decided to devote ourselves and our second chance at service to making our communities safer from gun violence. To do our small part, we'd help fight for better gun laws and policies that keep deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals while respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners like us. It just seemed like the responsible thing to do.
Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we've founded a gun violence prevention organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions, and criss-crossed the nation, speaking out about the commonsense solutions, like closing loopholes in our criminal background check laws for gun sales, that have been proven to reduce gun violence and save lives.
We've met with gun violence survivors, legislators and testified before Congress. We've heard from those on the front lines of our national gun violence crisis. We've worked with veterans, law enforcement, businessmen and women, members of the clergy, and domestic violence prevention leaders.
But beyond the breaking news alerts and the continuing devastation of gun violence in America is a more hopeful story: Nearly four years after Newtown, we're fighting, and we're winning.
Which brings us to the 2016 elections.
In a stark reversal of common political practice, candidates are scrambling to communicate their support for gun safety. Why? Because voters are demanding it. And because we're holding lawmakers in the gun lobby's grip accountable.
It's a national effort. That's why, this fall, we're undertaking a campaign to ignite the vocal majority of gun-sense supporters from coast to coast. And we're standing by our friends who have championed smart gun laws in Congress. Some of those friends are Democrats; some are Republicans. All of them know how urgently we need to do more to keep guns out of dangerous hands. Saving lives should be an American priority, not a partisan litmus test.
This week, they are earning our organization's endorsement.
Out west, two Democratic senators from states with proud traditions of gun ownerships are also earning our organization's endorsement. As Nevada's attorney general, Catherine Cortez Masto, stood with us in support of background checks legislation. That bill was vetoed, but Nevadans have the opportunity to enact it at the ballot box this fall. Catherine Cortez Masto should be the next senator from Nevada.
With so many more candidates running on a gun violence prevention platform, in some places the changing politics of gun safety has made our endorsement decision difficult. In Pennsylvania, Katie McGinty is a passionate advocate for gun violence prevention and would be a consistent vote for life-saving gun safety laws in the Senate. Likewise, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois is not only a decorated veteran and an American hero, but has been a champion for commonsense gun laws in the House. We have no doubt she would continue to be a leader on gun safety in the Senate.
With the vocal majority of Americans behind us, our movement has reached a tipping point. Our coalition is black and white, Latino and Asian. We are gay and straight. We are gun owners. We are Democrats and Republicans. And we've all had enough with the gun violence that is tearing our communities apart.
Change won't happen overnight. But soon, when we're wondering why it took so long, we'll remember 2016 as year America found its voice.