The Only Way Americans will Achieve Sensible Gun Control Legislation is to Control the Vote.
Here we go again and again when it comes to Congress debating or passing sensible gun control legislation. With the recent mass slaughter of innocent people in Buffalo, New York, and the horrific murder of innocent children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas, Americans are becoming numb to the ongoing reports and constant refusal by members of Congress to pass legislation to protect our communities from automatic assault weapons or to approve universal background checks prior to gun purchases – something that nearly 90% of Americans support.
In the wake of the shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, we can almost predict what some of our elected officials will say in front of the cameras. We’ll hear, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” “They’re going to take away our right to own guns,” “Provide guns to teachers,” “Have police stationed at schools, churches, synagogues, and now supermarkets.” You not only will hear this, but you can already name who will be spewing the N.R.A. mantra. There’s nothing wrong about owning a gun, and most Americans that do own handguns, rifles, and other deadly weapons handle them responsibly. The problem we’ve seen since the Clinton administration is that too many guns and automatic assault rifles are getting into the hands of people who don’t have respect for human life, including their own. Our nation will continue to fail its citizens if we permit our elected officials to continue to ignore the greatest threat to our society which gun massacres have become. We can’t stop the debate by calling for more funding for mental health treatment and thinking we can solve this problem. While most “shooters,” especially those that don’t commit suicide first, have underlying mental health issues, we cannot blame mental illness as the sole cause. While it’s a contributing factor, so is living in poverty, being bullied, family dysfunction, substance abuse, and other problems that many Americans live with without accessing deadly weapons.
America must start to lose patience with our elected officials whose only response to these shootings has been to offer thoughts and prayers, blame mental illness, or blame the other political party. We’ve been down this road too many times with Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Pittsburgh, El Paso, Buffalo, and now Uvalde, and proclaiming “enough is enough” is only the beginning. This November, Americans will go to the polls to vote. I can already hear the campaign narratives about inflation, the cost of gasoline, abortion, COVID, immigration, and crime dominating the debate. We must not let candidates at any level of government avoid being questioned about where they stand on passing universal background checks and sensible gun control legislation in our towns, counties, cities, and in Washington, D.C.
As a nation, we must insist that candidates for public office defend their positions on gun control, and we need to hold them accountable by voting to either elect them or not based upon this issue. Sure we’re paying more for gas, food, and taxes, but what about the costs associated with loosing an innocent child, a parent, a grandparent, or others close to us? We must mobilize to ensure that those elected leaders who feel that we’ve done enough to address this issue hear that we’ve had enough too. Enough of their denial and unwillingness to respect the wishes of their constituents.
Paule T. Pachter, A.C.S.W., L.M.S.W.
Chief Executive Officer
Long Island Cares, Inc.