LETTER: Rising shooting death toll is a poignant cry for gun limits

To Ozaukee Press:

The notion that the political ramifications of a tragedy should not be discussed in the wake of that tragedy is false. It is not disrespectful to the victims of a tragedy to discuss possible ways that we might avoid similar tragedies. Besides, tragedies such as Robb Elementary and Sandy Hook have now become so common that if we are not allowed to speak about gun regulation afterward, we will never be allowed to speak about it at all.

The numbers are sobering. The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks

shootings in the U.S., has recorded at least 356 mass shootings in 2022. According to the Archive’s records, gun violence overall has killed over 24,000 people in the US this year so far. There have been 59 mass shootings thus far in July, less than two months after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Firearms have become one of the leading causes of death for Americans of any age, and, according to the Giffords Law Center, they’re also the leading cause of death for children below the age of 18.

Common refrains following acts of gun violence include “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” or “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” That 376 armed and trained law enforcement officers took well over an hour to confront and kill the gunman in Uvalde debunks the claim that more police and more guns are the answer to stopping mass shootings.

A study by the FBI and the Active Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University also concluded that citizen heroics are far more the exception than the rule during mass shootings. Between 2000 and 2021, there were only four occasions across the country when an armed civilian was able to step in and shoot dead a mass gunman, the study found. It’s politically powerful to suggest that arming citizens can be an effective deterrence to mass shootings, but realistically that notion just doesn’t hold up.

Unfortunately, it is far too easy to get a gun in the United States and many gun-rights advocates reject even the most sensible restrictions on the sale of weapons to the public. Getting a gun should be the equivalent of getting a pilot’s license. Gun owners should be trained and vetted. Carrying a gun in public entails even greater responsibility than keeping one at home, and in most states the laws reflect this. Like many gun-control advocates, I have serious concerns about letting ordinary citizens walk around armed. Getting a gun is already much easier than getting a drivers license, which requires passing a written test, then a year of on-road supervision, and then ultimately a road test administered by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Policies like requiring universal background checks on all firearm sales, implementing red flag laws, prohibiting the sale of assault weapons, raising the minimum age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21 and creating a 72-hour waiting period on firearm purchases are all proven steps that can help us address gun violence.

As people across the country beg for gun reform, families of gun violence victims testified before Congress in June for tightened gun control legislation, mass shootings keep on occurring and at a frenetic pace.

As you prepare to vote in the upcoming fall elections, I’d encourage you to take a hard look at the candidates’ stance on guns and vote for those who advocate sensible solutions to the ever growing problem of gun violence in the United States.

Peter Vander Velden

Port Washington

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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