The people of south Florida need time to grieve, to bury their dead children and to heal. Only once all that is done, say those who so love their guns, will there be time to talk about gun violence and what we can do to prevent it.
But that time never really comes.
That’s because those who advocate unfettered access to guns really don’t want to have that conversation. Their only answer to “bad guys with guns” is “a good guy with a gun” – nothing more.
That conversation never happens because school shootings – with their murder and wounding and degradation of society – are occurring so frequently we don’t really have time to mourn. Instead of healing, we’re reeling from shooting to shooting.
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Before the Florida shooting, can you recall the last school shooting with injuries? Did you know that five middle-schoolers were shot in downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 5? Do you recall that on Jan. 23, two were killed and 15 injured when a Kentucky teenager opened fire in a school?
Have we grown so numb? Perhaps only a shooting with the carnage we saw in Broward County, Fla., on Valentine’s Day – 17 dead, 14 wounded – can actually shock us. It must shock us into action.
Many concerned gun owners truly want to find solutions; many have been proposed:
▪ Stringent background checks for all gun sales, including those at gun shows.
▪ Guns with fingerprint ID, like an iPhone, making them operable only by specific people.
▪ Banning high-capacity magazines.
▪ Requiring special permits to buy assault-style weapons.
▪ Taking guns away from those accused of domestic violence.
▪ Ridding social media of sites that fetishize murder.
▪ Most importantly, taxing gun sales to help survivors and to fund research into making guns safer, reducing violence, studying the pathology of violent fantasies, and keeping guns out of the hands of would-be killers.
That last item won’t happen; apparently the National Rifle Association fears it will diminish gun sales. In 1996, Congress heeded the NRA’s request and banned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from even studying gun violence. It pays Congress – including Jeff Denham, Devin Nunes, David Valadao, Tom McClintock and Kevin McCarthy from our Valley – to make certain the CDC remains hands off. So what if 15,550 Americans died from gun violence in 2016.
Bess Kalb, a writer for Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night TV show, faced down the NRA in the wake of Wednesday’s massacre. As Republicans tweeted out they were praying for victims and families, she tweeted back how much they had accepted from the NRA. Saying “God have mercy on your NRA-kept souls,” she tweeted that North Carolina’s Richard Burr has pocketed $6.9 million from the NRA; Missouri’s Roy Blunt $4.5 million; Florida’s Marco Rubio $3.3 million, Iowa’s Joni Ernst $3.1 million and Ohio’s Rob Portman $3 million. In all, Republicans reaped $17.3 million in NRA money last year, with another $21 million for Trump.
Those of you dedicated to unfettered access to guns really should take the time to grieve and pray. But once you’re done – if you can remember, if you can find it in your heart, if you’re not too busy cleaning your AR-15s – offer the nation ideas on how we can address this crisis.
Put those thoughts and prayers into action. Help us find a way to keep people from shooting our children.