Two "mass shootings" in two different states within 24 hours this weekend left 29 dead, many more seriously wounded, two cities terrorized, and no end in sight to the insanity surrounding gun violence in America.
How many of us are sick to death of this endlessly repeating cycle? There have been at least 32 "mass shootings" in the United States this calendar year alone. The apologists for denying the herd of elephants stampeding through the room are already again throwing out their buzz phrases like “gun-free zones”, “mental health problem”, and “don’t politicize a tragedy.”
The problem is NOT gun safety laws which create "gun-free zones". Saturday morning’s massacre took place in open-carry Texas, starting in one of the world's largest retailers of small arms to the public, Wal-Mart. Sunday morning's massacre in Ohio took place in a well-policed entertainment district during late-night business hours. Nearby police responded immediately and shot the attacker dead within a minute of his own first shots. The continuing assertion by some that the answer is putting still more guns in more hands in more places is nonsense.
Nor is this a "mental health" problem. Of course, we need better mental health care, but "mental illness" is not why we have 29 innocent people dead in two mass shootings in one weekend. A mentally ill person with violent impulses, untreated, may well be a danger to himself or another. Yet he (almost always "he") cannot slaughter 9 people in 60 seconds without a tool of mass murder in his hands.
Finally, candid and urgent discussions of solutions to this mounting crisis of gun violence are not "politicizing a tragedy.” In my view, the politicians using that phrase are pleading, "Please don't hold us accountable for the decisions we’ve made to let our nation be flooded with uncontrolled tools of mass murder." The small-arms manufacturing industry, which profits by the mass marketing and sales of far too many military-style weapons and arms accessories with no legitimate civilian purpose, must be reined in by serious legal restrictions.
Limits at the national level should begin with prohibiting the manufacture for civilian sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, as well as tightened licensing and background check requirements for gun sales and purchases. Action at the state level should include tougher limits on open public carry of firearms, and lifting of the prohibition against local governments’ regulating where guns can be carried on public and commercial property.
We, the concerned voters of our state and nation, must demand these responsible steps of our elected representatives. If they refuse, we must replace them at the next election.