"When it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now," said President Barack Obama this afternoon, as he signed 23 executive orders and urged Congress to act quickly to curb gun violence. Mark was at the White House event on behalf of Save the Children.
Save the Children has not been involved in the gun control issue in the past -- our work has focused on providing education, health and emergency relief services to children and families living in poverty in the United States and around the world -- but in the aftermath of Newtown, we are taking action. And when it comes to the safety of our children, there should be no comprise or half steps.
The President's proposal includes:
- Universal background checks for anyone purchasing a gun;
- A ban on assault weapons and a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines; and
- Tougher sanctions on people who knowingly sell guns to criminals.
We agree wholeheartedly with these common-sense solutions. We also support efforts to expand mental health services, particularly for young people. But these are just the first steps.
This is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive approach in order to ensure the safety and well-being of all children. We must address the violence plaguing our society, the poverty crisis that is affecting 16 million children, and the obesity epidemic that is affecting 12.5 million. That's why we are joining forces with the Children's Health Fund, Every Child Matters, First Focus, Harlem Children's Zone, and Share Our Strength to call on the President and Congress to establish a new National Commission on Children.
The first National Commission on Children was formed by President Reagan and Congress in 1987 to "serve as a forum on behalf of the children of the Nation." The Commission was charged with assessing the status of children and families and outlining new directions for policy and programs. The Commission released its final report in 1991. Entitled, "Beyond Rhetoric: A New Agenda for America's Children and Families," the report led to the enactment of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the creation of the Children's Health Insurance Program, among other important initiatives.
More than two decades later, it is well past time for a new commission to take stock of the challenges facing the modern American child. Kids are growing up in a different world, so it's time for new and bold ideas. We can do more to make our children safe from violence at home and in school. We can improve kids' health, especially those living in poverty. We can do more to help them succeed in school and achieve their full potential.
This new Commission should be tasked with creating a national policy on children, setting goals for reducing childhood poverty, obesity, illiteracy and violence, as well as the risks posed by natural disasters.
Everyone in Washington, D.C. seems to be talking about the debt and cutting government services. Undoubtedly, some will say that a price tag of $1-2 million a year for a two-year Commission is too high. But we have noticed that our political leaders often say that our children are our most important resource.
It's time for them to put our dollars where their mouths are.
Join us in doing the right thing for our children. Sign our petition today.