Will civility after shooting last and lead to action?
While we continue to pray for the victims and their families after another shooting on June 14, I am hopeful that the civil behavior by Congressional leaders toward each other_ regardless of party affiliation_ will continue long after this summer. Maybe if they can begin to see each other as Americans first, instead of political opponents, Congress can begin to set a positive tone and help cure the divisions in America.
This most recent shooting likely received more attention because one of the victims was U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise. Since one of their own is a victim this time, Republicans might take this opportunity to join with Democrats to pass sane, common-sense changes to U.S. gun laws. Though the U.S. ranks #1 in the world in gun violence, nothing in the past has moved Congress to act to limit access to assault weapons, the weapon of choice in America’s most horrific mass shootings; or to pass universal background checks for all gun purchases. Had Congress acted 10 years ago, perhaps some of the lives lost in the mass shootings listed below could have been saved.
In April 2007, Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded 15 at Virginia Tech.
December 2007, a 20 year old man killed nine and wounded five at a mall in Omaha Nebraska.
November 3, 2010, Nidal Malik Hasan shot and killed 13 and wounded 29 at Fort Hood, Texas.
January 8, 2011, U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in the head and six others were killed in Tucson Arizona, including a judge and 9 year old, by Jared Loughner.
July 20, 2012, James Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 58 in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
December 2012, 20 year old Adam Lanza gunned down teachers and small children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, killing 20 first graders and 6 adults.
September 2013, Aaron Alexis killed 13 and injured 3 in Washington D.C.
June 15, 2015, Dylann Roof killed nine members of a historic Black church during Bible Study in Charleston, South Carolina.
December 2, 2015, a married couple_ Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik_ killed 14 and wounded 22 in a mass shooting at a community center in San Bernardino, California.
June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 58 at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando Florida, with an assault rifle.
June 14, 2017, James Hodgkinson arrived at the practice field in Alexandria Virginia_ with an assault weapon_ where Republican Congress members were preparing for a charity baseball game with Democrats the next day. After confirming that the players on the field were Republicans, he began firing his weapon, wounding four that included Rep. Scalise.
These are just a few of the senseless mass shootings that happen so frequently in the U.S. that they are no longer a surprise. After each incident, Americans come together briefly for the expected time to grieve the lost lives, console and comfort living victims and their families, and declare that we will be unified in our efforts to make sure this does not happen again. Within weeks, Republicans go back to their usual positions of defending the unfettered right of any and all Americans to arm themselves to the teeth with no restrictions, to please the National Rifle Association (NRA); while Democrats demand sensible, life saving changes to our gun laws.
Congressional Republicans refuse to act in spite of the fact that almost every national poll shows at 9 out of 10 Americans favor universal background checks.
More specifically, 93 percent of Democrats and Independents, 93 percent of gun owners, 89 percet of Republicans, and even 85 percent of NRA households support background checks for all gun purchases. Further, a CBS poll taken after the Orlando mass shooting showed 57 percent of Americans favor a nationwide ban on assault weapons. The NRA’s position that every American is guaranteed the right to own an assault weapon for hunting or household self defense is as ridiculous as saying the Second Amendment gave every colonial household the right to have cannons for self defense.
President Obama wiped away tears when speaking about the 20 babies who lost their lives at school because a mentally ill young man had access to an assault rifle. He signed executive orders to begin to improve the federal system for background checks, when he was unable to get Congress to act even in that instance. He stated that in Dr. King’s words it is “the fierce urgency of now because people are dying…we are here today not to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to prevent the next one”.
If after the June 14 shooting, all Congressional leaders do is hang it out and talk about civility, without acting responsibly to prevent the next act of gun violence, they will have failed us again.
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