On Valentines Day one year ago, 17 students and educators were gunned down and many more injured by a young man with an assault weapon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 

Today, we remember these individuals and their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends and others who are left to deal with the painful aftermath for the rest of their lives. We also remember the more than 33,000 Americans who, each and every year, have their lives stolen to gun violence in communities throughout the country.

The surviving Parkland students, along with the friends and loved ones of the victims, have turned their sorrow into a nationwide movement to end gun violence.

They know that  easy access to guns–particularly weapons designed to kill many people rapidly–repeatedly leads to tragedy and loss of life. They know it’s wrong for children to fear getting shot when they go to school, church, a movie or the shopping mall. They know that “thoughts and prayers” from the President and other elected officials will do nothing to prevent the next mass shooting. And they know that we cannot sit idly by and accept daily carnage as normal.

Change is happening.

Since the Parkland shootings, 67 new gun laws were enacted last year by both Republican and Democratic legislators in 26 states and Washington, DC, covering a wide range of gun safety issues.

Here in New York State, our Assembly and Senate recently passed six measures–long advocated by NYAGV–that will improve background checks, allow for extreme risk protection orders, ban bump stocks, and more. NYAGV has also partnered with Youth Over Guns to raise awareness about gun violence that impacts communities of color and to empower youth to advocate for life-saving policies and programs.

We are encouraged by this progress.  But we know there is so much more to do. Strong federal gun laws–improving background checks, banning assault weapons, and much else–are crucial to keeping guns from entering our communities from states with weak gun laws.

Today, in honor of the Parkland students–the victims, the survivors, and their friends and loved ones–please commit to fighting for strong gun laws so our children can be safe at schools and all Americans can be safe from gun violence. Thanks you.