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Gun control. It’s on everyone’s mind these days, and why shouldn’t it be? If we don’t know someone personally who was shot, killed, or injured by a bullet, then almost every single day we hear about a shooting somewhere in this country. Thanks to the efforts of President Barack Obama, the families of the victims of Newtown, activists that have kept the pressure on, journalists who continue to cover the topic, and those elected officials trying to do the right thing, the Senate voted on Thursday to allow a debate on gun control legislation. A debate might not sound like much when you first hear about it, but with all the opposition from gun advocates and the National Rifle Association, it’s a major, major development, and all I can say is, bring it on!

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As most-recent polls showed, some 90 percent of Americans wanted background checks on anyone trying to buy a gun.  Even when a majority of the population agreed so heavily on something, it took months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting for this to finally happen.

But we shouldn’t act like this isn’t a massive step in curtailing the sale of illegal weapons.

By voting to debate a bill that would expand background checks online and at gun shows, the Senate is starting the process of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.  There’s no reason why a violent person or an abusive husband/boyfriend should be able to buy a gun so easily with the click of a button.

When we have background checks for almost everything, why should something as important as purchasing a gun not have checks either? 

It’s just crazy.  In fact, it’s so crazy, that many Americans think that we already have these kinds of common sense rules in place.  I applaud the bipartisan acts of the Senators who voted to begin the debate.

While those of us who care about protecting our kids (and all of us for that matter) from the growing threat of gun violence are celebrating this moment, let’s not forget that we still have an uphill battle to tackle.

After a Senate vote, the bill still has to pass the House before it even reaches the President’s desk.  And many Republican leaders have already said they are willing to stop it.

It’s up to us – each and every one of us – to call our Representatives and let them know exactly how we feel about this issue. At the end of the day, they work for us and are supposed to represent what WE want, so why not let it be known?

If you’re tired of watching children dodge bullets on their way to school or hearing about grandmothers getting shot while sitting in their living rooms, please take constructive action. If you’re fed up with all these loopholes and lobbyists like the NRA pushing for more guns, let your voices be heard.  If you’re exhausted from all the mass shootings and senseless killings across the country, make sure those in Congress and in the Senate know.

Newtown families deserve great credit for traveling to Washington, D.C., this week and sharing their ideas, frustrations, and pain with our leaders.  While they are still grieving, they made it a point to remind folks how important this gun control issue is and why we should do whatever is in our power to prevent anyone else from suffering in the same way.

Too often we think one person can’t do anything, but these brave parents and loved ones proved to all of us how that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In my city of N.Y., guns often flood our streets and our neighborhoods because of loopholes in gun laws in other states.  If we can close as many of these cracks in the system as possible and expand background checks, then we can reduce the number of illegal purchases and guns running across state lines.

Anyone that has ever read my blogs or listened to me speak knows that this is a subject very close to my heart.  I, too, lost a loved one to gun violence years ago, and as a civil rights activist and national executive director of the National Action Network, I’ve comforted far too many grieving Mothers and Fathers after they buried their child because of a stray bullet.

Enough is enough.

The moment for gun reform is now, and I’m thankful we have some in Washington who recognize this urgency.  Let the debate begin.

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