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My View: Your vote could help end gun violence

My heart and soul feel heavy with the knowledge that another child has died in a school shooting and another community is grieving, this time in Oregon.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Reynolds High School community. But thoughts and prayers are not enough, and the weight of this tragedy is not all we — as parents, community members and Oregonians — feel. We are devastated, frustrated and angry. We are beyond ready for our elected officials, in Oregon and in Congress, to pass laws to keep us safer.

Evidence shows there is no better way to reduce gun deaths than by strengthening our background check system. In Oregon, there is a loophole in the system that allows dangerous people — felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill — to buy guns online and at gun shows without passing a background check.

In the 16 states that have closed this loophole, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by their partners and 39 percent fewer police officers are shot and killed.

As long as this loophole exists, it’s like having two lines at the airport — one with security, one without. Criminals flock to unregulated gun sales where they can buy guns with no background check, no questions asked.

Oregonians overwhelmingly support closing this dangerous loophole. Polling tells us that around 80 percent of Oregonians, including the majority of gun owners, support background checks on all gun sales. But we must speak up.

We must ask lawmakers to take action. It’s their job to put laws in place that will keep guns out of the hands of minors and dangerous people. If our current elected officials will not protect our children and families, it is time to find leaders who will.

Please pray for the Reynolds High School community, but please act, too. Call your representatives in the Oregon Legislature and in Washington, D.C. Pledge to vote on this issue in November. Join Moms Demand Action or another organization working to reduce gun violence.

Then call a friend. Talk about what you want to change and how you’ll make it happen. Mother by mother, father by father, friend by friend, vote by vote, we will change our broken gun laws and gun culture — and keep our children, schools and communities safe.

While I feel heavy, angry and frustrated today, I am not hopeless. I am determined. We are in this together and we will, together, create the society our children deserve.

Sarah Finger McDonald is the Oregon chapter leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She is a Corvallis resident, the mother of two young children, and a part-time teacher.