Gun control: We need answers

In this era of extreme polarization in our country, what will it take to make some measure of compromise happen? 

On changes in federal gun control legislation, we wrote much the same thing as this and the following almost five years ago, after the shooting in Newtown at Sandy Hook elementary school: If not now, then when? But in the time since, there have been many more school shootings, and mass shootings, with the record-setter in Las Vegas still stunning our national psyche. 

It should be clear by now that whatever legislators thought might have worked to stem the tide of gun violence in America has not been working. Should we as Americans just agree to roll over and die for the cause of the right to bear whatever outsized arms in whatever greater and greater numbers one desires? How can this be the society a majority of us want, including, perhaps especially, responsible gun owners? 

It is not working. Solutions must be found, and they will not be rooted only in trying to address the repercussions of  mental illness incrementally. When our government decides it’s all right for the mentally ill and those who cannot avail themselves of commercial air travel to still purchase guns with impunity, what difference will greater access to mental health care actually make? (Not as if that is happening anyway, by the way, particularly not if the Affordable Care Act, still in existence as of this moment with open enrollment from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 for 2018 coverage, is ever repealed and replaced.)

Maybe the perception of winning and losing needs some amending in our national consciousness, the idea that losing ground on any issue means one is a “loser” while gaining ground keeps us “winners.” There are no winners and losers here, only those who escape gun violence, those who perpetrate it and those who are its victims.

There must be people of courage, like our Sen. Chris Murphy, who will stand up and take the lead in implementing real solutions to this uniquely American problem. We need to find enough common ground to at least start to take steps toward keeping too many and too-powerful guns out of the hands of those who will misuse them. 

Other nations have tackled this issue and succeeded in preventing anything like the number of shootings that happen in the United States regularly. Why can’t we?