Letter from Christina Soontornvat

Dear students, your bravery and commitment to change inspired me to write letters to my congressmen. I am delivering one of these letters in person. I wanted you to see it here, and to know that you are spurring adults to take real and concrete actions. Thank you for what you do. Keep up the good fight.

Dear Representative McCaul,

I am writing to you in the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting, with a plea to take action that will protect the young people of this country from mass shootings.

I am a lifelong, 6th generation Texan who grew up in the small community of Weatherford in Parker County. I grew up around guns. My family members own guns. My very best friends own guns. None of them would balk at deeper background checks or longer waiting periods because they know that a lax system that lets dangerous people get guns quickly does not serve responsible gun owners. This is why strengthening background checks has wide bipartisan support across the country. If people on both sides of the aisle can behind this legislation, why hasn’t it been enacted?

As the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, I know you are committed to keeping Americans safe. The threat of gun violence is as great a danger to our children as foreign terrorism, and yet so little has been done to stop it. In the wake of the 9/11 bombings, all Americans lost some liberties and conveniences as airport security measures increased. Yes, we grumble about having to take our shoes off at the airport and yet we all do that because we know that it’s necessary. If Americans are willing to be scanned, x-rayed, and patted down at airports, surely they would grow accustomed to increased security measures around deadly weapons.

I have been both inspired and put to shame by the survivors of the Parkland shooting. I am inspired by their courage in the face of such grief and trauma. They are still mourning the dead, and yet they are crying out for change with the honesty and raw emotion of children who have witnessed their friends and siblings being gunned down in front of their eyes. I am ashamed that I, as an adult with children of my own, have done comparatively little to make the world a safer place. Sir, you and I have a deep responsibility to our youth. Their right to live to adulthood should be placed above every other concern.

My daughter was two years old when the Sandy Hook attack happened. In the five years since, what have you and I done to make sure a similar horror doesn’t happen in Texas? I hope that like me, you are now jolted into action. I will not be complacent on this issue. I pledge to vote with this issue in mind, and to encourage my fellow Texans to do the same.

Christina Soontornvat, Author