So much is at stake.
Access to life-saving, affordable health care. The future of our planet and the air that we breathe. And the future of our fight against gun violence, a public health crisis that kills more than 100 people in the U.S. every day and wounds hundreds more, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.
This last issue, gun safety, is one that I’m deeply passionate about because too many other members of my generation have been hurt in our nation’s gun violence crisis.
Two years ago, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer to take action. In February 2018, I watched along with the rest of the country the coverage of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. By November, I was 18 and registering any and all voters at my high school to participate in the midterm elections. We saw a chance to change the inaction we had seen on gun violence for years.
Two years later, our national conversation on gun violence has changed for the better. In that time, 15 states have passed extreme risk laws, which created a way to act when there are clear warning signs that someone with firearms poses a risk to themselves or others, as was the case before the shooting in Parkland. Last year, voters in Virginia flipped control of the state legislature in an election in which gun safety was a top issue, ushering in a new gun sense majority that went on to require background checks on all gun sales and enact an extreme risk law. And this year across the country, candidates are running on gun safety, responding to voters’ demands for leaders who will take action.
But Barrett’s nomination threatens all of that progress. Barrett has made clear she has an extreme and dangerous view of the Second Amendment, asserting that even those convicted of a serious felony should be permitted to own guns. Her confirmation could put almost every commonsense gun law at risk, from background checks to extreme risk laws. These laws have been upheld time and time again, but like President Donald Trump’s past two nominees, Judge Barrett’s track record suggests she’s eager to overturn this consensus and side with the gun lobby over public safety.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. As a woman in the South, many of my rights — like many others’ rights — are on the line. I’m a member of the gun violence generation, having grown up in a country with elected leaders who have somehow accepted that gun violence is one of the leading causes of death for children and teens in the United States, as Everytown for Gun Safety reports. Our generation can’t afford four decades with a gun extremist on the bench who could roll back progress on gun safety legislation.
Equally frightening is what Barrett’s confirmation could mean for racial justice. In the past year, the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and so many others have prompted white activists to join a fight that Black and Latinx activists have been involved with for decades, against the disproportionate impact of gun violence on their communities. As the Alliance for Justice documented, Barrett once sided against a Black worker “whose employer transferred him to an another store through an alleged practice of segregating employees by race.” And legal scholars worry about the conservative judge’s potential rulings on affirmative action cases. If we’re going to continue our crucial conversation on race, we can’t have a Supreme Court justice who’s hell-bent on ending it.