The worst mass shooting in U.S. history happened yesterday morning at 2:00 a.m. eastern time. 50 human beings were killed and 53 were wounded at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
It was only a matter of time until Virginia Tech was outdone. Although we are still learning the details of the attack, we know that the shooter swore allegiance to the Islamic State and went to Pulse with the intention of killing members of the LGBT community. We also know that he, like the gunmen in the vast majority of the 16 most recent mass shootings, bought his firearms legally and with a federal background check. We know that at least 8 of those 16 gunmen had criminal histories or documented mental health problems that did not prohibit them from obtaining their guns.
Conservatives across the country tell us to be angry, but not with the those who deal out these deadly weapons or refuse to pass laws that may have protected 50 innocent victims today, and an average 91 Americans every other day.
Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA) gets it. "Thoughts and prayers are not enough, moments of silence are not enough maybe Mr. Speaker, instead of giving Americans a moment of silence you could give Americans a moment of action."
Exactly, it is not enough to have empathy, our elected representatives need to grow a spine, face off against the NRA, and implement laws that could change our country's direction.
Thoughts don't bring back the 50 human beings that were killed at the Pulse nightclub. Prayers don't prevent guns from getting into the hands of criminals or terrorists. Laws do.
The gun lobby likes to equate guns to cars. When we had an epidemic of automobile fatalities in our country, the CDC studied it and we took action. We implemented lower speed limits. We enacted and enforced seat belt laws. We took a hard line on driving under the influence. Guess what happened? The epidemic was addressed and fatality accidents dramatically reduced.
The gun lobby also likes to say that the states with the strictest gun laws still have problems with gun violence. Don't believe their hype. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that with disparate gun laws across all states and the open borders we enjoy, guns sold in one state are easily brought into another.
So what can we do?
Instead of thinking and praying -- pick up the phone and call the NRA and GOP lawmakers. Keep calling them. Over and over. Tell them that you want gun violence studied by the CDC with follow-up legislation. Tell them you're tired of people dying because they refuse to act.
Instead of a moment of silence, why not write your own letter to the editor or op-ed in your local paper?
Tell them what you want. I know what I want. I think a program administered by a state or national agency is the answer. The three ideas below should be ongoing requirements on a 3- to 5-year cycle.
- Background checks for ALL gun purchases
- Training requirements for all purchasers. More robust training requirements for CCW holders
- Mental health screening