Time to address gun violence in America

Published 4:09 pm Tuesday, April 13, 2021

No state or community is exempt. Shootings can happen anywhere and they do. Monday, a student was shot at a Knoxville school and a policeman injured after the student carried a gun to school and holed himself up in a school bathroom.
Over the weekend there were two shootings in one Kingsport neighborhood. Sunday, a man in the Milligan Community was found shot to death in his home.
Shootings have become a product of this nation’s violent culture.
In March a young man pulled in the parking lot of a Colorado supermarket and started shooting, ultimately killing ten people. The incident came on the heels of an Atlanta suburb shooting, which came on the heels of dozens of other gun-related murders in America this year.
When will it happen in Elizabethton? Sooner or later it will.
When a shooting occurs such as the one that happened in Boulder, Colo. a few weeks ago, it takes aim at the heart of the community. Just as the lives of the victims’ loved ones will never be the same, so, too, has the place been altered, violated, and indelibly stained with violence. Certainly, the families in Sandy Hook, Conn., know that as well as the families of the 17 victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in 2018
The headlines tell us that the mass-shooting epidemic tapered off during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there were 611 mass shootings in 2020, a significant increase from prior years.
Guns are a staple of conversation in the Tennessee legislation. Every year, there are gun laws introduced. And, this year Tenn. Gov. Bill Lee backed and signed into law a permitless gun carry law. Guns are a staple on every Tennessee legislative agenda.
Repeatedly, we are told by Second Amendment Rights advocates that guns don’t kill, it is people. However, people use guns to kill.
The shooter in Boulder, Colo., purchased the rifle he used less than a week before his rampage, making him one of more than 20 million Americans who bought firearms during the last year.  Sure, a lot of Americans like their guns. And, they will go ballistic if they even hear of heightened regulations on firearms.
Yes, better gun laws are needed. Yes, this nation needs a new approach to mental health and more resources to deal with mental health care.  And, yes we need the resources to address the despair and rage that would lead someone to take another life. But, we need to go even deeper and understand that violence has shaped much of American life. What do we do to stop it?
We must stop the hatred…the culture war, that has pitted blacks and whites against each other, and now Asian-Americans have become the target. We must do more to address the bullying among Americans.
At some point we must recognize that more must be done to address this uniquely American crisis. In the meantime, how many people will have to die? It will be too late for the victims of the Colorado and Atlanta shootings.
And it will come too late for the next victims of the next unthinkable nightmare, which will occur in a place like our town that people will swear seemed safe and immure from such ghastly harm.
Until that day comes, if it ever does, America will carry on as normal – which is tragically unacceptable.

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