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A gun control conversation has begun. Now what?

There is no question that America is embroiled in a battle right now, between the left and the right. There are those who support the president and his agenda and those who don’t. One of the most heated debates in our nation’s capital centers around gun control, especially in the wake of recent shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

In total, 31 people were killed during the weekend of Aug. 3 and 4. Many of the victims were black and brown, many Hispanic living and working near the Mexican border. 

Although President Trump has cried out that “hate has no place” in our country, many are suspect of his intentions to enact real gun control legislation. But at least he has started to address the issue, and taken the proper stance following the violence.

“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” said Trump. 

Surprisingly, he also said that deeper background checks are needed for gun sales. This is what he Tweeted: “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying … this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform.”

The sentiment was appropriate (for the most part). But grandstanding, if that is what this was, is not good enough.

It’s worth mentioning that in addition to tying his call for some form of “meaningful” gun control to immigration, he also connected the plague of mass shootings to mental illness and hate.

“Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun,” said the president.

OK, so there are a few points we’d like to address. We think Trump speaking out against hate was important. After all, he’s had a strong following of those with ties to hate groups, especially white supremacists. That’s a real problem and strong words  — and actions — are needed to combat the surge of hate flooding our nation.

Another point though, is that Trump piggybacked immigration reform onto the gun control debate. What is the connection? Is he simply hoping to pass immigration legislation through by any means possible, tied to any legislation that might find support with lawmakers and voters? It’s very likely. 

His statement that guns aren’t the problem, mental illness and hate are, reflects only a part of the picture. Of course, mental illness is part of the equation — and those who carry out these mass shootings are clearly not mentally well. We acknowledge that. And, hate, too, is its own problem. It can overtake the seemingly sane, and lead to extreme violence. Hate, we believe, can kill. But that’s not to exonerate guns. Guns are a means to an end. And if they were controlled more closely, those means would be curbed. To say guns aren’t the problem is to be short sighted, and of course, political.

Now, we understand that this is the president. He is politically motivated — after all, he’s an elected official. But his leadership is needed now more than ever, and action must follow talk. Gun control is vital to this country’s safety and sanity. According to a May Quinnipiac poll, 61% of Americans are in favor of stricter gun laws. And according to that same poll, a whopping 94% support background checks for all gun sales.

We are glad to see a hint of that conversation coming from Trump — and we hope fervently that it will lead to bipartisan agreement on laws that can address the myriad issues involved and ultimately curb gun violence in this country. There must be compromise if we ever hope to stop the violence and keep all Americans — regardless of race or religion — safe.