We often lament the slow pace of government action when it comes to a plethora of matters that need to have a remedy applied. There is no doubt that the coronavirus which has impacted the health and well-being of people along with the national economy deserved the full attention of the government. I was pleased with each of the COVID relief measures passed by Congress. It was not lost on anyone that when that body wants to act they can move in a speedy fashion to address a most valid concern.
While the recent actions of Congress this year are most welcome, it needs to be asked in light of the horrific news from Colorado how the tens of thousands of gun-related deaths each year in the nation have not been regarded with the same urgency? How has Congress not acted with equal resolve about mass shootings?
Congressional negotiators were able to artfully deal with who received federal aid payments, how to dodge the minimum wage issue, and put in place a smart program to deal with child poverty. I applaud the legislation and I applaud the fast movement taken by elected officials who cared enough to assist citizens and help percolate the national economy. But ask yourself, given the violent displays of bloodshed from handguns and military-style assault weapons, all of which are too readily available among the populace, how it is not possible to have the same determination to speedily move gun control legislation.
More than 41,500 people died by gun violence in 2020, which was an awful record, according to the independent data collection and research group Gun Violence Archive. That included more than 23,000 people who died by suicide. Annual firearm deaths have never exceeded 40,000 since at least 1981, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With the grim news Monday afternoon from Colorado comes data to show that state had more mass shootings per capita than all but four states. The Census-designated Denver metropolitan statistical area had more school shootings per capita since 1999 than any of the country’s 24 other largest metro areas. Volumes of data exists to show nationwide the mass shootings cases abound, even though it needs to be noted most gun deaths are not from such acts where four or more people are shot.
In other words, there are many avenues of gun violence that need to be addressed. The speed that lawmakers can act has been noted, with the COVID legislation. But we should not forget that there are other pressing matters in this nation that also need bold and decisive action from Congress. The absence of such determination, when it comes to gun legislation, underscores the reality of who buys and controls Congress.
The reason is the NRA.
The sad fact is on any given day the average citizen knows they can be killed with a gun from an unstable and angry person who obtained the weapon and ammo with complete ease. That ability is in law, but runs counter to logic and common sense.
Every nation has angry people and mental health issues galore, but it is only here in America that we say to those people, here is an assault weapon! And please do not forget to stock up on your ammo supply, too. It is patently absurd.
When polls are taken, regardless of the firm doing the questioning the results continuously show overwhelming support for the passage of legislation demanding universal background checks. There is strong majority support for both a ban on high-capacity magazines and also a ban on assault-style weapons.
In 2016, after the gut-wrenching mass shooting in Orlando. I had the opportunity to speak at the Madison Capitol rally. From the heart I spoke about the loss of life that forced our nation to lower flags half-mast and how the NRA needs to be curtailed. I stressed that our sense of loss, anger, and fear as a nation needed to be translated into a passion for urging Congress to write and pass meaningful gun control measures.
I also urged people to have conversations not just with folks we agree with but everyone as we must send a message that this gun violence must end. It starts with you and me.
We have seen the will of Congress can move a powerful and costly measure to combat COVID and stir the economy. Surely, the mounting death toll from mass shootings and gun violence should also merit the same urgency.