Rejecting the New Normal: It’s Time for Effective Gun Control

September 20, 2013

This week, our nation’s capital witnessed a horrific mass shooting by a man with a past of violent outbursts and worsening mental health issues. Aaron Alexis shot and killed 12 people at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC, and although the incident took place near the U.S. Capitol, lawmakers have remained eerily silent about gun control.  Have mass shootings every few months become the new normal for our country? Will we have to wait for an even larger tragedy before our policy makers have the political will to implement common sense gun control policy?

Multiple red flags were raised before Monday’s shooting. Alexis had been dealing with mental health issues for at least a decade, had a history of run-ins with law enforcement involving guns and was discharged from the Navy due to a “pattern of misconduct.” Considering his list of questionable behaviors, why would an arms seller think Alexis was fit to possess a weapon?

Our nation’s bleak history of inaction on gun control issues is appalling. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have deferred to the gun lobby rather than common sense, and Americans are paying the ultimate price. In the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school mass shooting, President Barack Obama laid out his plan to reduce gun violence, which included: ensuring quality coverage of mental health treatment, banning military assault weapons and strengthening the background checks for those interested in purchasing firearms. Had those recommendations become legislation voted into law by members of Congress, Monday’s tragic events may not have happened. 

Futhermore, the senseless shooting in Chicago on Thursday night, where 13 people including a three year old boy, were shot on a basketball court might not have happened. At what point will our lawmakers give in to common sense to reform gun control policies and make our nation safer?

It’s simple really. One of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent gun violence is to ensure that those who would commit acts of violence are not eligible to purchase the weapons in the first place. We failed the victims and their families by not strengthening policies to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

Again and again, after the inexplicable tragedies in Aurora, CO; Oak Creek, WI; and Sandy Hook, CT; support for gun control spiked, only to recede with time. Will Washington, DC, simply be added to the list of mass shooting sites, or will we overcome this disastrous new normal and create effective policies to this problem that affects every segment of our society?

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