Shootings are a bipartisan, critical issue that needs dedicated attention

Some time has passed since two mass shootings happened in one weekend in the United States, in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Is now a good time to review some actions that should be taken in the wake of these tragedies, and all the other shootings in the U.S. that have taken and ruined lives? It seems that once the great eye of national interest has turned away from specific events, the news cycle moves so quickly and erratically that it becomes difficult to turn back. But turn back we must if we want to save our country from continued targeted and heinous violence.

One of the things heard in the aftermath of these mass shootings now is that people are getting used to hearing about them, and are almost numb to them. Yet for those who are personally affected by them, these shootings are something that they may never recover from, much less be numb to. For Latinos in El Paso, who according to the shooter’s online postings were targeted with purpose, never again will they feel safe and secure going out to the store, or let’s face it, anywhere. Their lives and the lives of Hispanics across the country have been irrevocably changed, as they have now joined other groups targeted by white supremacist aggressors.

President Trump’s rhetoric needs to be shown to him, in a place where he can’t look away, highlighting the areas where he attacks whole swaths of the people he is supposed to protect as the Commander in Chief. He may be in denial about the effect his words have on those of his supporters who have no judgment and who act on their worst impulses, but it’s time for him to come to some self-awareness. Until he understands better the power he wields with what seem like thoughtless statements on Twitter, at rallies and in speeches, he will never modify his poisonous behavior. But maybe his statements are quite deliberate and he has no regrets as far as their repercussions. If that’s the case, nothing more can be done to encourage him to show caring leadership for all in this country.

Either way, what should be done, as noted here before, is that Congress should enact federal universal background checks, mental health screening and data recording, red flag laws, gun licensing, insurance required for gun owners and limits on assault weapons and magazine sizes. It should be at least as challenging to apply to own a gun as it is, for instance, to apply for medical, home or auto insurance or a mortgage. If this country could find a way to prevent the use of airplanes as weapons by terrorists following 9/11, we should be able to find some solutions to out-of-control gun violence.

Connecticut Democratic Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal have been activists in the reform of federal gun legislation, and both have bills pending in Congress: Murphy with the Background Check Expansion Act, and Blumenthal with an Emergency Risk Protection Order statute that he cosponsored with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. It is time for this issue to become solidly bipartisan, in that the vast majority of Americans who belong to either major party or are unaffiliated believe action must be taken by their leaders to address gun violence.  

Those who wave the Second Amendment in the faces of those who run the country (in all branches of government) need to look at history, and realize that the epidemic of gun violence has increased exponentially since the incremental changes in how the Second Amendment has been understood after the 1970s. Before, it was seen as applying to militias, not to personal ownership of guns (See “Politics Changed the Reading of the Second Amendment—and Can Change It Again,” by Jeffrey Toobin, Aug. 5, 2019, The New Yorker.) If those in any elected office now are unable to find the courage to act on legislation that will help, at the very least, to begin to stem the tide of gun violence, they should be voted out and replaced with Americans who take the mission of serving their country seriously.