Gun violence: Inaction is deafening with every shot
When these pages decried the gun violence that killed 58 concertgoers and injured 500 more at the hands of a madman with “machine gun” in Las Vegas, we said more such tragedies were likely on the way.
We only needed to wait about four months. We watched in horror again as panicked students ran from their high school in Parkland, Florida, as a former student pulled the fire alarm and gunned them down as they exited their classrooms. Another horrific milestone. With 17 killed, the shooting came in second as the largest mass shooting at a school, behind the 26 killed at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
The only thing more horrific than the carnage is the fact that our elected leaders have no answers, no response, not even a serious discussion about common sense restrictions on the rampant availability of guns in America. They have little or no response to the flaws in our selling of firearms and enforcement of current laws involving firearms.
The one common sense policy that had broad bipartisan support is now stalled in Congress by way of the NRA.
That law called for the banning of the so-called “bump stocks” used by the Las Vegas shooter to turn his rifle into a machine gun.
Ironically, perhaps, the chief author of the bipartisan bill to ban bump stocks — Rep. Carlos Curbelo — is from Florida. And while the NRA agreed the bump stocks should be banned, it did not support the legislation, instead saying the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms could somehow administratively ban the devices.
It was another dodge, another successful manipulation of congressional leadership that has effectively stalled the issue.
Other inaction continues to make our communities unsafe and exposes them to the burgeoning menace of gun violence.
There are still no background checks for secondary market gun sales at gun shows or online in some cases. And the laws we do have are poorly enforced.
The ATF is so understaffed that a gun store in Washington state was able sell firearms illegally for years. Many of its guns turned up in crimes.
The ATF is charged with checking the compliance of 139,000 firearms dealers in the U.S. It had resources to conduct compliance checks in 2015 on just 6.5 percent of those dealers.
The assault rifle ban that expired in 2004 was supported by large bipartisan coalitions in Congress when it was first implemented, and it emanated from a series of events that included an assassination attempt on one of our presidents and the permanent injuring of one of his aides. But it’s 2018 and the Florida shooter, age 19, easily purchased an assault rifle.
In fact, the current Congress appears to be headed in the opposite direction of common sense gun restrictions. A bill that would loosen federal regulations on silencers passed a House committee last year. While House GOP Speaker Paul Ryan said he had no plans to bring it to the House floor anytime soon, other observers say it’s still alive.
Silencers could make shooters more difficult to detect, especially in cases like the Las Vegas shooting.
The legislation would remove a federal requirement for a special license in order to buy silencers. It would also loosen restrictions for transporting firearms across state lines and change the definition of armor piercing ammunition to make it subject to fewer federal regulations, according to a report in The Washington Post.
Citizen safety should be more important than appeasing the gun lobby. Until we take a stand and implement these common-sense solutions, supported by large majorities of our citizens, Americans will continue to involuntarily sacrifice their lives in our schools, churches and movie theaters.
— Mankato Free Press