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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

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If we don’t learn a lesson from Las Vegas, we will experience many more shootings

If we don’t learn a lesson from Las Vegas, we will experience many more shootings

Americans are still trying to make sense of the worst mass shootings in modern day US history. Using 23 automatic rifles, Stephen Paddock killed 58 innocent human beings and wounded almost 500 others. From his 32nd floor window at a Las Vegas hotel, Paddock needed less than 12 minutes to carry out his carnage of the concert-goers below. His attack seems to have been well planned.

One constant response we get from politicians and their representatives is, “This is not the time to talk about this.” Why not? Citizens in our country have access to weapons of mass destruction. We are passively guilty when we allow politics and politicians to “brush us off” and keep us silent with the words like, “It’s premature to talk about it.” We need to talk about this!

Tom Ashbrook on the following Tuesday morning radio broadcast, “On Point” on National Public Radio, began his program with these words, “We know that mass shooting has become as regular as rain in America – more than one a day. Think about that. Why are we killing ourselves? And what should we do about it? In the sorrow of Las Vegas, we ask why, and what to do.”

Notice he said, “More than one a day.” Mass shootings are defined as someone killing more than four people. Mass shootings are so common that the press do not report most of them. I hate to say this but they have become “our way of life.”

According to David Hemenway, Professor of Health Policy at Harvard, “Since 1970, more Americans have died from guns (including suicides, murders and accidents) than the total of all the Americans who died in all the wars in American history, back to the American Revolution. Every day, 92 Americans die from guns, and American kids are 14 times as likely to die from guns as children in other developed countries.” We have more gun related deaths than any other developed country!

Why do we have this mess? The answer is: Fear! The National Rifle Association has managed to distort the defense of the second amendment so powerfully that they have cultivated fears in us. We’ve been fearing our own government. The NRA says, “They’re coming for your guns, you have to vote for so-and-so.” It’s very effective and works on people’s fears.

The NRA also provides a huge stream of money that flows into the coffers of our politicians. If they do not vote according to the NRA’s interests, the gun industry can exert power simply by “not giving this year,” or sponsoring a rival candidate. This is a huge industry with huge financial interests at stake.

Recently our Congress and President pasted legislation blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people. Now they want to put silencers on guns so we will not hear when people are shot.

What can we do to stop this unnecessary carnage of so many human lives?

1. Outlaw automatic and semiautomatic rifles and machine guns. These are not necessary for hunting or self-defense.

2. Impose universal background checks for anyone buying a gun. Four out of five Americans support this measure to prevent criminals or terrorists from obtaining guns.

3. Impose a minimum age limit of 21 on gun purchases. This is already the law for handgun purchases in many states, and it mirrors the law on buying alcohol.

4. Enforce a ban on possession of guns by anyone suspected of domestic violence.

5. Tighten rules on purchasers for those buying for criminals. Make serial numbers harder to remove.

6. Adopt microstamping of cartridges so that we can trace them to the gun that fired them.

7. Require safe storage to reduce theft, suicide and accidents by children.

If we cannot learn the lesson from this carnage, we will experience many more shootings.