It is time for America to find answers for school shootings

Published 9:41 am Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The latest mass shooting incident happened Valentine’s Day at a high school near Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — 17 students and staff members killed by a disgruntled and troubled teen who had formerly attended the school. This shooting follows on the heels of a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Tx., and at a concert in Dallas, Tx. There have been other shootings, all unthinkable tragedies at the hands of a mass murderer and his guns.
We live in a troubled society, where gun control measures are a much discussed issue. Among common-sense gun control reforms being discussed are banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes, and a more stringent background check of people buying guns.
Clearly, the issue is people who have access to guns and are a threat to society. It’s an issue that Congress can no longer sweep under the rug or ignore. It must be discussed. It’s not enough to say “our thoughts and prayers” are with the families and friends of shooting victims. That’s the easy way out.
Although Congress has debated dozens of gun control bills, no federal gun control legislation has been enacted since 20 elementary school children and six adults were killed in December 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
As long as it doesn’t hit close to home, we are content to let sleeping dogs lie. In the meantime, more people die.
America must be better than this. One simple thing that lawmakers from both parties should be able to agree on is the need to understand why are these shootings occurring, who are the people doing the shootings? Do we have a mental health crisis in our country?
We must find a solution to gun violence. We have funded research to find a cure for cancer. We work to reduce deaths on the nation’s highways by installing red lights, highway barriers, and traffic laws. But yet, we have done nothing to curb gun violence, which is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of death.
It is time Congress acts. It is also time that our representatives in Washington quit taking campaign cash from gun lobbyists, namely the National Rifle Association. Our representatives should not be indebted to anyone but the people back home who they represent.
This week, students at the Florida high school where the shooting occurred have pledged to take up the fight themselves. They plan to make their voices heard by having a march in Washington, D.C. in March. Students in other states are also joining the cause.
Yes, a school shooting can happen in Elizabethton. It wasn’t supposed to happen at Sandy Hook Elementary or at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Fla. It’s not supposed to happen anywhere, but, it does, with sickening frequency.
It was the nation’s fourth worst school shooting, and the seventh school shooting in the United States — this year. These tragedies have become so commonplace that they are not headline news anymore.
Promising young lives snuffed out in a day at school, a place where children should be safe. Teachers killed, trying to protect students. Parents, grandparents, siblings, friends have had their lives changed forever.
What is it going to take to move Congress? There won’t be any easy answers. Offering up thoughts and prayers just don’t get it. Yes, we need to pray. We need to pray for an answer to these heartless shootings. But, Congress also needs to put some action behind its thoughts and prayers. School shootings are becoming too common.

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