When President Obama comes to Minneapolis today to advocate for his administration’s proposals to reduce gun violence, I will be the first in line to shake his hand and thank him on behalf of my father, Reuven Rahamim, who was killed last September in a mass shooting.
My father was shot twice in the head at Accent Signage, the very company he founded and built in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis. The gunman killed five other men that day, robbing 15 children of their fathers.
The death of my father has left an immense void—not only in my family, but also in the community.
My father created a vibrant business that has been noted for its innovation. He created dozens of jobs over the years, invented a system of Braille that is used in signs at the White House, and exported products all over the world.
My father lived the American Dream, but he died the American nightmare. Since his death, I have learned that my family’s experience is not as uncommon as one might expect.
Every year 12,000 Americans are murdered with guns, but this statistic does not even begin to capture the true toll of gun violence, which is borne by the sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, and wounded survivors left behind.
All across this country, we are experiencing what some have called “slow-motion mass murder”—33 Americans are slain with guns every day. American children are dying at a rate unmatched in other developed countries, and our gun-homicide rate is the highest among all industrialized nations. Our country, which is exceptional in its many great qualities is, unfortunately, also exceptional for one of the worst possible reasons.
Last month, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden took decisive action by unveiling a comprehensive set of legislative proposals and executive actions to reduce gun violence. The proposals include universal background checks and a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as tougher penalties for firearms traffickers and straw purchasers.
An overwhelming majority of the American people supports these measures—including gun owners. According to a survey conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz on behalf of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, 87 percent of gun owners believe support for the Second Amendment goes hand in hand with keeping guns out of the reach of criminals.
The responsibility now lies with Congress to pass the White House’s proposals. While it may be impossible to prevent every death from gun violence, our elected representatives have a moral obligation to try. Simply standing for the status quo is no longer acceptable, and it is up to the voters—sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers—to make this clear.
While it will be an honor to meet President Obama today, I will never forget the tragic circumstances that have led me to this moment. My father was a living, breathing example of the full potential of the American Dream, but instead he is now the face of a broken system that allows dangerous weapons into the wrong hands.
My father lived the American Dream, but he died the American nightmare.
I am calling on Congress to follow the White House’s lead by taking the necessary action to reduce the plague of gun violence that has affected so many families like my own. I also urge Americans across the country to contact members of Congress and ask them to support the passage of this critical legislation.
We have shed enough blood. We have lost enough family, friends, neighbors, and fellow Americans. We have seen enough carnage.
Enough is enough.