Time is now to address gun laws

Published 12:08 pm Thursday, June 15, 2017

Wednesday morning, a gunman identified as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Illinois, allegedly opened fire on a field full of Republic Congressman practicing for a charity baseball game in Virginia. 

At least five people were wounded, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

There have been almost 90 mass shootings — resulting in four or more victims — in America in the past 35 years.

Email newsletter signup

In the wake of another senseless shooting tragedy, many would find it sufficient to make a call for unity once again. Honestly, these repeated calls for our politicians and the American people to unite in the face of repeated tragedies seem to be a waste of breath at times. 

After the shooting, President Donald Trump said, “We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because they love our country. We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans, that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace, and that we are strongest when we are unified.”

“In times like this,” — there in lies the problem. 

Unity is important, but it’s typically in the wake of these tragedies that people seem most united. The issue is when the media storm dies down and the rest of country returns to its day-to-day life, that feeling of unity fades. It can somehow become easy to forget how often mass shootings occur in our country. 

Remember San Bernardino in 2015? There were 14 fatalities and 21 injuries. What about the Planned Parenthood clinic attack in Colorado just two weeks earlier? There were seven mass shootings in 2015 alone. 

There was the Fort Hood shooting, the Newtown school shootings, the Aurora theater shooting, the Virginia Tech massacre, the Columbine school shooting… and many, many more. 

It is during these somber days immediately after such tragedies that we hear cries for gun laws and eloquently crafted speeches about crossing party lines. Unfortunately, little action is taken to address a problem that is ever-increasing in America. 

The issue here is not a lack of unity in general, it a lack of unity among our nation’s leaders to appropriately address gun laws. The answer is difficult and one that shouldn’t be rushed, but how many more lives need to be lost, how many citizens must be traumatized by shooting tragedies and how many people must be convicted of such heinous crimes before we finally buckle down and solve this problem? Or at least try. 

As Trump said, we all believe our children deserve to grow up in a safe nation. We all crave a peaceful country for the next generation. But, what are we doing about it?

The irony in Wednesday’s shooting is that this tragedy hit much closer to home than usual for those who have some real control in addressing the issue. Thankfully, none of these leaders’ injuries appear to be life-threatening. 

The time is now to have these difficult conversations — before another senseless tragedy occurs.