Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Request for Assistance after Newtown

Hi everybody,

Please pardon the interruption. I'm taking a break from writing crime novels today to ask for help from my fellow writers, publishing professionals, bookstore owners, members of the literary and entertainment communities, lawyers, colleagues and friends in light of the horrific events in Newtown on Friday.

As many of you are aware, on July 1, 1993, at 3:00 PM, I was sitting in my office at the Pettit & Martin law firm on the 36th floor of the 101 California Street office tower in downtown San Francisco. I was informed by my secretary that a man had entered our building and was shooting people on the 34th floor. Eighteen minutes later, eight people were dead, including the crazed gunman who had murdered several of my colleagues, neighbors and friends with an assault rifle. I got lucky--I got behind a locked door along with a dozen of my colleagues, and the gunman didn't come our way. The events at 101 California are as incomprehensible to me today as the they were almost twenty years ago.

And now the victims are kids.

I can't begin to express my profound sorrow over the unspeakable losses in Newtown. I have a pretty good idea of what things will be like in Newtown for the next few weeks, months and years. There will be funerals. There will be mourning. The community will band together. There will be an outpouring of support and love. The media attention will dissipate in a few days, but there will be ramifications to individuals and families for many years. I've listened to the arguments about gun control for almost two decades, and here's where I come down. Civilians don't need assault weapons. Civilians don't need ammunition clips holding dozens of rounds. We don't need to arm teachers, college students, shopkeepers at malls or lawyers who work in office buildings. We need to do more than acknowledge that gun control is a complicated problem. We need to decide what sort of country we are. We need to act to stop the carnage--or at least we need to try. Until we do, there will be more Newtowns, more Columbines, more Virginia Techs, more Auroras, and more 101 Californias. We send our representatives to Washington to do more than score petty political points in the 24-hour news cycle--we send them to govern. We need to hold them accountable--and we need to hold ourselves accountable. We need to join together to support sensible gun laws. We also need to take greater steps to improve our country's mental health services.

What can we do? I hope you will join me in supporting Senator Feinstein's proposal to reintroduce the Assault Weapons Ban in January. In addition, I hope you will get consider joining the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which was formed here in San Francisco by attorneys at the Pettit & Martin firm after the massacre at 101 California. If you are able, I hope you will consider making a donation or helping in any way that you can. For more information, please go to http://smartgunlaws.org/.

I would appreciate it if you would help us spread the word by forwarding this message to your family, friends and colleagues.

This isn't going to be easy, but we owe it to our kids to try. Thanks very much for your help.


Sheldon Siegel
New York Times Best Selling Author
of the Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez Novels


Anonymous said...

According to this, the NRA will be fighting hard.


Michael Kerins said...

I have no love for assault rifles and can certainly support their ban from personal possession. Anyone that thinks that this ban will prevent the violence that occurred in Newtown, Conn. is kidding themselves. This country needs to take a long look at how we deal with the mentally ill who are a danger as well as the physical security measures necessary for places where people congragate, in this case, elementary schools. I am NOT talking about armed security but a thorough security plan that makes physical changes to the entrance, windows as well as a rapid response plan. It can be done if we have the will to make it happen.