There are no words to express the horror and shock over the killings and injuries sustained by those at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine’s Day. Wonderful people, most of them children, were victims of this act of terror. The lives of the families of the victims and the community at large are forever changed by this terrible event.
This is not the first time that such carnage has taken place. There were the church killings in Texas and South Carolina, the murders that took place at the theater in Aurora, Colo., the Las Vegas and Orlando massacres, and the many school killings at places like Virginia Tech, Columbine, and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The list of tragedies goes on and on.
There seems to be no end in sight. Many school districts are now conducting student drills on what to do and where to go should a shooter invade school grounds. Students and parents live in fear. This is America?
Most of these shootings follow a familiar pattern. A deranged person uses firearms, oftentimes assault-style semi-automatic weapons, which can kill and injure a large number of people in a short period of time. This type of weapon is for use by the military, not for everyday citizens and certainly not by people who have severe mental problems. These sick individuals often carry enormous supplies of ammunition at the time of their attacks as well.
After a tragedy, there follows a loud public outcry for steps to be taken to stop these heinous acts. Unfortunately, the powerful gun lobby in our country, which contributes large amounts of money to certain candidates for elected office, manages to derail any proposed common-sense gun safety measures.
Many politicians fear for their jobs because of the power and money represented by the gun lobby. In the 2016 election cycle, the National Rifle Association contributed $54 million to candidates for public office that supported their views, including over $30 million to President Trump. Do you think that these particular officials are going to buck the NRA in any meaningful way?
I admire and support the students who are standing up and are calling for strong measures to be taken in the wake of the tragedy that they have experienced. This includes advocating for sensible gun control measures, like enhanced background checks and the banning of bump stocks.
Yes, it is important as well to ensure that people who are severely mentally ill to the point where they want to harm and kill others get treatment for their disease. However, additional measures must be taken to ensure that these people have no access to any type of firearms. We must also adequately fund help for these troubled people and intervene as soon as we see signs of inappropriate and/or psychotic behavior. Don’t wait until it is too late!
In the 2018 election cycle, the issue of how to prevent future episodes of gun violence will be a crucial issue for Americans to consider. The media must continue to keep this issue front and center and not allow it to fade until another tragedy occurs.
Our elected officials, as well as new candidates for office, must be held accountable. It is time to vote against those politicians who are dragging their feet and not supporting common-sense solutions to this most serious national problem.