Like thousands of other women across the country, on the evening of August 11th, Elizabeth Gannon, Heidi Overmier, Jody Billingsley went to their local gym to participate in an aerobics class. That same evening, 48-year-old George Sodini entered the LA Fitness Center with four guns, 150 rounds of ammunition and started shooting. Before the shooting spree was over, Elizabeth, Heidi and Jody were dead and 9 others were wounded.
This tragic shooting is a dramatic example of how the gun lobby's false rhetoric contributes to thousands of senseless deaths in our country each year. The gun lobby likes to pretend that only criminals get guns; that more guns equal less crime; and carrying guns in public makes us all safer.
The reality is that the circumstances around the LA Fitness shooting make George Sodini the anti-poster boy for the gun lobby. Afterall, Sodini had no prior criminal record; he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon; and he legally owned at least three of the four guns he was carrying.
Despite this tragic shooting, and numerous others like it, the gun lobby will undoubtedly persist in their reckless campaign to sell more and more guns... no matter the cost to society or to our nation's sense of safety and well-being.
In their relentless pursuit to arm even more American’s, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and the gun lobby even went so far this past July to sneak a national concealed carry amendment into the Defense Authorization Bill. Thankfully the amendment failed by a slim margin but the gun lobby will keep trying. This, despite the fact that some form of carrying a loaded concealed weapon is unwisely already legal in many states.
It's ironic that today's parents are hypervigiliant about what their children eat, whom they hang out with and whether they have sunscreen on. Yet, in sharp contrast, there is remarkably little awareness or concern about the 280 million guns in civilian hands in our country—many of which are carried hidden into supposed safe havens like fitness centers and malls.
The real world implications of concealed carry are chilling. Consider:
- Sipping hot chocolate with your toddler at Starbucks while sitting next to a fellow patron with a loaded concealed firearm strapped to his waist;
- Visiting the local zoo with your family and noticing a man with a gun tucked in his belt at the exhibit; or
- Boarding a crowded bus with your newborn child with upwards of 5 other passengers carrying weapons.
Unless this is the kind of world you want for you and your children, Americans’ need to pick up the phone to call state and federal lawmakers to voice outrage over the gun lobby’s extremist agenda and urge them to vote no on future attempts by the gun lobby to nationalize the carrying of concealed weapons.
Afterall, allowing armed gun owners—versus trained law enforcement officers—to make potentially life and death decisions about public safety in gyms, restaurants, churches, theaters and parks is a frightening prospect.