Take Action - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1977451

Take Action

Your editorial [“A Cry For Action,” June 2] rightly focuses on school shootings after the massacre at Uvalde High School. But mass killings — most, if not all, of them with assault weapons designed for military use — go well beyond schools.

Opponents of common sense gun control, things like universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and red flag laws, argue after every mass shooting that “now is not the time,” or “let’s not politicize the tragedy,” or “we can’t infringe on Second Amendment rights,” offering thoughts and prayers instead.

There have been 23 mass shootings in schools dating back to March 24, 1998, resulting in 187 killed and 140 wounded, not to mention the extended emotional and psychological damage to immediate and extended family, those who escaped, and those who had to literally pick up the pieces.

When is it time?

Since its enactment in 1994 the Brady Bill, named after President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, Jim Brady, who suffered a grievous wound during an assassination attempt on the president, required universal background checks and prevented over 4 million prohibited gun purchases, according to Brady United to Prevent Gun Violence.

If only 1 percent of those denied weapons had been able to purchase them, some 40,000 criminals and terrorists would have had access to weapons. For how many more mass killings would we be sending thoughts and prayers?

Unfortunately, Congress has refused to take up more common sense gun restrictions ever since, despite other mass shootings in Charleston, Las Vegas, Orlando, Pittsburgh and most recently Buffalo, among numerous others.

According to the most recent polling of Politico and Morning Consult, 88 percent of Americans want universal background checks, 69 percent want a ban on high-capacity magazines, 67 percent want an assault rifle ban, and 65 percent support stronger gun laws overall.

And with 80 percent of guns being purchased legally after background checks, American Gun Facts estimates that over “393 million guns are in civilian hands, the equivalent of 120 firearms per 100 citizens.” So, apparently, background checks haven’t infringed on Second Amendment rights.

Preventing gun violence is about saving lives, of course, but it is also about who we are as a nation and what values we have. Do we as a country really want to put a higher value on 20 percent of gun sales occurring without background checks than stopping the slaughter of our children?

When the right to own an assault weapon is more important than trying to protect children, what does it say about our country?

Gene M. Bernstein