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Nevada Today

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As Relevant Now As It Was Back Then, As Gun Violence Continues to Plague America

gun violence, gun safety, mental health

Over Labor Day weekend, Texas suffered another mass shooting attack. Then last night, another shooting attack occurred in Minnesota. Once more, Americans are wondering what happened and why gun violence has reached epidemic proportions across the nation.

Sadly, this is nothing new. Once again, we’re diving back into our archives to see what went wrong then… And what continues to go wrong now. When will we finally decide to make it right?

Let’s first go through something I wrote back on January 8, 2013: “Tucson. Gabby. Guns. Two Years Later.” Here, I actually quoted articles further back in my archives. As per usual, I lightly edited it for language and fixing broken links.

Almost exactly two years ago, this happened.

I’m incredibly horrified by what happened today in Southern Arizona… But sadly, I’m not all that shocked. This was bound to happen. When our political climate becomes so heated, so polarized, and so radicalized, violence is bound to result. In the next few days, I hope Gabrielle Giffords survives surgery and begins full recovery. And I hope all of our political leaders- left, right, and center- condemn this horrid, criminal, possibly terrorist act, and urge Americans not to allow our politics to become so bloody.

Fortunately, (former Rep.) Gabrielle Giffords [D-Arizona] survived that assassination attempt. However, eight people died that day and several others were wounded. And even since that happened, there have been more horrific mass shootings throughout America.

Back in January 2011, we discussed the Tucson Shooting.
President Barack Obama greets former Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, in the Oval Office after they testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, Jan. 30, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Yes, yes, I’ve heard that famous clause: “Guns don’t kill. People do.” But you know what? When people can access extremely lethal “weapons of mass destruction” so easily at the neighborhood gun store or local gun show, that’s a serious problem.
Unfortunately, nothing happened after Tucson… Other than more mass shootings. After the July 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, I just couldn’t contain my frustration over a crisis that we let get out of hand.

It’s become so easy in most parts of this country (Nevada included) to purchase not just guns, but the very assault weapons that are designed to kill masses of people. As we’ve discussed before, it’s been easier to buy guns than to access affordable mental health care in most states. There’s something seriously wrong with that. […]

Frankly, I don’t think we can afford to keep avoiding this subject. And I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss all gun safety advocates as “nanny state socialists who want to ban hunting”. That’s actually not what we’re talking about.

Rather, we’re asking how logical it is that instruments intended for mass murder are so readily available. And does it make sense that nearly anyone and everyone can access these instruments intended for mass murder? So when will we finally be allowed to have a rational discussion on improving gun safety?
And then, Newtown happened.
Photo by “Slowking4”, licensed under Creative Commons, and made available by Wikimedia
The sight of twenty children and seven adults slaughtered in their elementary school horrified the entire nation. And it finally led to some deep soul searching on the issue of gun safety.
Of course, there are deranged and disgusting people in this world. Unfortunately, that will never change. However, what has to change is allowing these very people to commit acts of terrorism on our soil. And what has to change is the celebration and downright worship of assault weapons that should have never been allowed to become so commonplace in civilian life.

There. I said it. […]

[… S]o far, it’s looking incredibly likely that Newtown, Connecticut, is now suffering immense loss because of a deranged individual getting one’s hands on dangerous assault weapons. There may have been no background check. And clearly, there was no fail-safe to prevent so many bullets from being released so quickly.

Will we ever learn? And will we ever have an honest discussion on how to correct this horrifying failure in public policy? How many more people have to die before we reconsider our extreme allegiance to the gun lobby?

This can change (if we want it to).
Photo by Andrew Davey

Even Giffords herself, a formerly “pro-gun Democrat” in Congress, has had second thoughts on the extremely permissive attitude towards deadly assault weapons in this country. She and her husband are now taking action to change that.

And they’re not alone. President Barack Obama plans to continue pressing for gun safety reform. And other grassroots voices have emerged in calling for better gun safety. Some of these voices even know firsthand the horrors of extreme gun violence.

Tucson was not the first incident of mass gun violence, nor has it been the last. But as we look back on the last two years, we must ask ourselves how much we’ve done to make our communities safer and free our people from the fear of being “the next victims”. And we must demand change.
Postscript: It happened again, and it happened in Texas again.
Photo by Andrew Davey
Less than a month after back-to-back mass shooting attacks in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, a gunman opened fire in Odessa, Texas, last Saturday. He killed seven people and injured 23 others before killing himself. We’ve since learned that the gunman had previously failed a background check, and that both the gunman and the employer who had just fired him contacted law enforcement just hours before the attack.
Authorities admitted yesterday that the gunman should have never had any of these weapons in his custody. Nonetheless, he used military-grade assault weapons to attack Texas state troopers who thought they were making a routine traffic stop. And just two days later, another gunman opened fire outside the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul and injured three people.
Photo by Andrew Davey
This has basically become an excessively tragic twist to Groundhog Day: We learn of a mass shooting. Reporters go on an information feeding frenzy. Politicians rush to the cameras to offer “thoughts and prayers”. Pundits talk about the potential for some kind of legislative action, yet that “some kind of legislative action” gradually dwindles down to nothing. The shooting soon falls off the headlines, and we return to a state of mass amnesia before the next mass shooting attack restarts the cycle.
I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again today: It doesn’t have to be this way. This is a public health crisis that we can solve. It’s now for us to decide whether we finally want to take action(s) to solve it.
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