“We must take action nationally to ban assault weapons.” 

Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, is a human rights activist, author and frequent guest on TV news shows in the U.S. and abroad. 

On May 27, 1968, one month after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and five years after President Kennedy was gunned down, Robert Kennedy, my father, was heckled by voters in Roseburg, Oregon, when he spoke in favor of gun control. One week later in Los Angeles, we lost my father to yet another man with a gun.

In the four decades since, more than one million Americans have been slaughtered by guns. And on Dec. 14 in Newtown, we lost nearly 30 more lives, 20 of them just 6 and 7 years old. Today, 87% of the children killed by guns in the 23 wealthiest nations are Americans.

Adam Lanza wasn’t able to massacre 26 people in 10 minutes because of TV violence, videogames or song lyrics. He was able to deliver this carnage because the AR-15 is a civilian-grade weapon identical to the military’s M-16 — a device designed to murder many people quickly, and because high-capacity magazines are widely available for purchase at sporting goods stores.

We must take action nationally to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, add background checks at gun shows, bolster law enforcement capacity to stop guns going to dangerous hands, and track both guns and ammunition. And we can turn off programs that promote the depths to which humanity can fall, rather than the heights to which we can soar.