By Teresa Welsh |
Once again, our nation has experienced the recurring nightmare of a random mass shooting. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson. Now Aurora. These horrific tragedies have an undeniable common thread—dangerous individuals with far too easy access to guns, often with extraordinary firepower. These cataclysmic events, though, are simply the most shocking instances of the daily plague of American gun violence that takes the lives of over 80 Americans every day—30,000 every year—in murders, accidental shootings, and suicides.
The connection between gun violence and our abysmal gun laws is obvious. In the case of the Aurora theatre massacre, our laws allowed the shooter easy access to a semi-automatic assault rifle and a 100-round drum ammunition magazine, enabling a single person to mow down a theatre full of people without the need to even reload. Is there any rational explanation for allowing such military weaponry to be sold to the civilian population?
The gun issue often is posed in inherently polarizing ways, as if any effort to tighten our laws is a frontal attack on the Second Amendment. But there are sensible measures that could be taken to make it harder for dangerous people to get guns with no impact on the ability of law-abiding Americans to have guns for hunting or self-defense. For example, the current Brady background check system only applies to sales of guns by licensed dealers. It should be extended to all gun sales, including transactions between private individuals at gun shows and over the Internet. Ideas like this do not divide us; they actually unite us. A new poll shows that 82 percent of gun owners, including 74 percent of National Rifle Association members, support background checks for all gun sales.
Yet the recurring nightmare of American gun violence continues as we await the next inevitable massacre. And our politicians do nothing.
Surely, as a people, we are better than this. And we deserve better from our political leaders. We need to force the politicians to confront this issue. You can start making that happen by going to www.wearebetterthanthis.org and signing the petition calling on President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney to offer specific solutions that will prevent tragedies like the Aurora shooting in the future. Americans appreciate our candidates' eloquent expressions of sympathy and healing. But, this time, soothing words are not enough. This time, we need solutions.
Because we are better than this.
About Dan Gross President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Center
Mike Sweeney Communications Manager at the Gun Owners' Action League
Erich Pratt Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America
Dave Workman Senior Editor of TheGunMag.com
Joshua Horwitz Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence