This is an op-ed written by Democratic New York State Senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke on gun control legislation. It was not written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit op-eds, send them to Matt Butler at

I’m angry. Cold, fierce, I’m a-mom-who-will-do-anything-to-protect-my-kids angry.

I’ve gone through all the emotions since the racist Buffalo Tops massacre. And the Uvalde massacre. And the – count them – 17 more mass shootings just since Uvalde on May 24. 

I’ve wept. I’ve prayed. I’ve steeled myself not to let my children see how hard it is to kiss them goodbye as they head off to school every morning. Because I know the burden they’re already carrying, they matter-of-factly tell me how their schools have them practice huddling silently in corners, and these kids can’t shoulder adults’ anxieties, too. 

My own brother died a sudden, violent death 22 years ago, and my heart breaks watching one decimated family after another face that onslaught of grief, because I know the deep pain, the bargaining, the desperation to look anywhere else, the crippling wave of suffering that washes over you again and again.

And yet I fear that once more, nothing will happen. So I am angry. 

Americans agree on a solution, but politicians don’t act. Why not? First, because too many cowardly politicians are bought-and-paid-for by the corrupt NRA. And meanwhile, even when everyone agrees, progress gets blocked in the all-or-nothing, campaigning for clickbait mentality of Congress.

But we are way past time for those kinds of politics, we must get done that which we know can get done.

For 3 years, I was the weekly Democratic commentator on our local NBC affiliate TV station, and I had 5 different Republican counterparts over that time. 

Even though every single one of my Republican debate partners agreed with me on-air — as do the vast majority of Americans and gun owners — that America needs universal background checks, under the thrall of the NRA’s corrupt money, Republican Congress Members not only utterly fail to get this done, they actively block it at every opportunity. 

It’s sick and wrong that children are dying, when we know the solution that Americans agree on. We cannot bring these children back, just as we cannot bring back the victims in Buffalo or any of the other mass shootings our nation has endured, but we can honor their legacy with action. Our politicians must ignore partisan posturing and act for the solution that Americans know is right.

Obviously this is only one step in a broader effort to stop mass shootings, but it is a big step and it’s one where we all agree. Holding this legislation hostage to a broader gun control package is literally putting people’s lives at risk, so while we debate everything else – and we should – universal background checks are a policy change that we should deliver now.

The Republicans have disintegrated into the party of “America Can’t.”  They say we can’t have health care for everyone, we can’t end our dependence of foreign oil, we can’t stop mass murders of children. They’re wrong. 

Yet we as Democrats must do more than say America Can, we must take action. So while we debate red flag laws, the age at which people can purchase weapons, the need for expanded mental health services, and social media monitoring – let’s do the one thing we know that most Americans want, that gun owners want, that gun control advocates want, that and most of all, what moms like me and caregivers everywhere want.

Because while our representatives wait, more children die.

Progress demands results, so I’m channeling my anger into action. I’m at work for my children, our children, all the children taught to hide under desks and behind locked doors because politicians won’t act.

Enough. Universal background checks now.