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If you back gun reform, write a check

By Eli Broad and David Bohnett, Special to CNN
February 19, 2013 -- Updated 1949 GMT (0349 HKT)
 A woman's sign echoes President Obama's address to the nation at a rally for gun control at the Connecticut State Capitol on February 14.
A woman's sign echoes President Obama's address to the nation at a rally for gun control at the Connecticut State Capitol on February 14.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Writers: Americans want gun reform: 92% back background checks for each sale
  • Obama was right, they say. Gun violence survivors, victims' families deserve a vote
  • Writers: Pro-gun reform groups need support to counter massive influence of gun lobby
  • Donate, volunteer, contact lawmakers: Vote them out if they block gun reform, they say

Editor's note: Eli Broad founded SunAmerica Inc. and KB Home and runs the Broad Foundations, designed to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts. David Bohnett is a technology entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is head of the early stage technology fund, Baroda Ventures, and chairman of the David Bohnett Foundation.

(CNN) -- After the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, people everywhere are demanding common sense reforms to our gun laws. According to a January poll, for example, an overwhelming 92% of Americans back background checks for every gun sale. We all need to take action to see real change.

President Obama has unveiled a bold package of legislation, and our leaders in Washington are finally listening. We are encouraged by this, but concerned Americans must stand united against gun violence and put pressure on elected leaders to vote accordingly for real solutions.

Like the president said during the State of the Union, this issue deserves a vote -- our elected officials are accountable to the survivors of gun violence and the families of victims, and they deserve a vote.

Eli Broad
Eli Broad
David Bohnett
David Bohnett

Now more than ever, we need to provide support for the advocacy organizations that are working to establish a formidable counterweight to the gun lobby, which is well financed, well organized and will stop at nothing to protect the interests of the firearms industry and obstruct sensible legislation that will help save lives.

Groups like the Fund for a Safer Future and Mayors Against Illegal Guns -- spearheaded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- have been leading the charge in Washington for meaningful reform. It is incumbent upon all of us in the philanthropic community and the people served by these programs to stand firmly behind them during this critical time.

We have been proud to join other foundations and grant makers in backing these organizations. With the help of our resources, they have conducted essential policy research, raised public awareness and launched national campaigns that have brought us closer than ever to stopping the bloodshed.

But there's still so much more that philanthropists can do to further this cause.

Obama: Involved dads could curb violence
Advocates on Obama call for gun control
Obama: Laws alone won't stop gun deaths
Obama: Laws alone won't stop gun deaths

Philanthropy, after all, is activism. It is not merely writing checks and throwing money at problems; it is investing in solutions that can lead to momentous change. We have an obligation to help save lives. This isn't about politics. This is about reclaiming our fundamental right to safety. What better investment could there be? Over the years, we have each financed major public institutions in Los Angeles and across the United States -- from opera houses to charter schools, scientific research centers to art museums. They have all contributed to positive change in our community and our country. But what good are they if our children aren't safe in their classrooms?

What good are they if a 15-year-old girl can perform at the president's inaugural festivities one week and be gunned down in a Chicago park the next?

We need to take a comprehensive approach to reducing gun violence, and the time is now to do it. Supporting nonprofit advocacy groups will help maintain the energy behind reform and keep pressure on our elected officials. Political leaders can no longer duck this issue or the growing grass-roots movement that it has inspired.

The philanthropic community can help ensure our elected representatives make the right decisions. Private citizens can help make a difference in whatever way they are able -- writing a check, donating in-kind contributions, calling or writing their elected representatives, volunteering time to a nonprofit.

Most important, we have to hold our legislators accountable on Election Day. If your representatives don't support gun reform, then don't vote for them. A coalition of people working toward the greater good is the essence of our democracy. Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writers.

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