Another mass shooting… More platitudes… Words are no longer enough
Two days have passed by since we awoke to hear about the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, and it is still hard to shake the feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Our political leaders extended thoughts of condolences to those who lost their lives to unimaginable violence and to their families. Sons and daughters no longer have a parent, and parents know the painful reality that their child passed before them. Will this be one more quickly forgotten episode in a heartbreaking repeating loop?
The day of the shooting, the White House Press Secretary said it was not the time or place to discuss preventing such tragedies in the future. While the sentiment is true that productive solutions rarely come at times we are in shock, such remarks seem convenient for a Party and President who would rather we not have an honest discussion about our gun violence epidemic.
With an average of one mass shooting each day, it will never be the time to find a solution under this logic. No, now is the time. We cannot wait any longer.
An airplane crash every day
While mass shooting get all the headlines, we have an even more deadly aspect of gun violence in our homes. Most gun deaths are suicides, and the rate of suicide by firearm has been steadily increasing over time as the number of guns in our country increases. In states with the highest gun ownership, firearm suicide rates are 4 times higher than in states with low gun ownership. Police are 3 times more likely to be killed by a gun while in the line of duty in these high gun volume states.
95 people die from gun violence every day. That is the equivalent of a commuter jet crashing to the earth every morning. The policy of more guns is not working.
Profits over lives
While we do not know all the answers to this crisis, there are some actions broadly supported by Democrats and Republicans that would reduce the unnecessary deaths. Why don’t we get results?
The Republican Party is captive to the National Rifle Association, a organization funded by the gun manufacturers. When Republicans are in charge, the NRA cracks the whip to push laws to weakness protections against gun violence, and when Democrats are in charge, they scare gun owners into buying more guns with the threat that these protections will be enacted.
Overall gun ownership per person in America is declining. The gun manufactures play our public policy to make us less safe in order to prop up their shrinking market. It is the ultimate corporate fix at the sacrifice of American lives.
How do we fix this?
It is time to stop letting corporate profits dictate public safety. Fortunately, there are some common sense proposals with overwhelming support from all Americans, Red, Blue, and in between, as well as responsible gun owners, if we are willing to stand up to the NRA and their lobbyists.
1. Limiting Access
There are some groups of people that almost everyone agrees should not have guns, yet the NRA fights to let these folks maintain their access to deadly firepower. 50 women are killed by gun violence each day by a spouse or partner. In states where background checks are uniformly required, 47% fewer women are shot and killed by their intimate partners, and 53% fewer police officers are shot and killed in the line of duty. If you are on a No Fly List, you are a potential security threat, and we should not be arming you, period. Earlier this year, the Republican Congress eliminated an Obama era rule prohibiting the sale of guns to people deemed mental unfit by a court. This is truly madness and must be reinstated to protect the public and the personal safety of the mental illness suffers. Requiring background checks for any and all sales will close loopholes that will keep guns out of the wrong hands.
2. Limit Capacity
The Second Amendment was written when firearms were single shot muskets. The amount of firepower on display in Las Vegas has no place in our homes and on our streets. We should reinstitute the Brady Bill ban on assault rifles, restrict gun magazines to no more than 10 rounds, as eight states already do, and close loop holes on devices that allow the conversion of legal guns to automatic weapons.
3. Knowledge is power
People often say there is nothing we can do to prevent gun violence, but this is NRA-imposed ignorance. Since the 1990s, the Center for Disease Control is banned under the Dickey Amendment from research the causes and possible solutions to gun violence. There is little funding for this kind of research outside of federal grants. Congress must appropriate funding to the CDC to study this specific issue, giving them the space to do this vital research so we can be more effective at saving lives.
4. Don’t forget universal healthcare
Untreated mental illness can lead to drug abuse, homelessness, and violence. Universal healthcare, like the Medicare for All proposal I support, must include coverage for mental health. Expanding access to mental health services gives us another tool to intervene before attempts at violence to others and oneself occur.
Never, never, never give up
It is easy to think nothing can change. The NRA is a wealthy intrenched interest that has succeed in blocking and rolling back progress, but they are on the wrong side of history.
From the founding of our country to the civil rights and labor movements, the powerful have always fought against change. This is no different. Please join me in this just fight. The victims of the next potential shooter are counting on us.