Stand Up to the Bullies on Gun Control

By Stephanie Niedringhaus
October 14, 2015

Last week, soon after the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, 20 senators spoke out for commonsense measures to #StopGunViolence. The gun violence crisis is real, and each of us must call for quick action.

Each day, our nation adds new names to the horrifically long list of people who have lost their lives because of guns. In fact, the number (more than 1.5 million) of those who have died because of guns just since 1968 exceeds the number of Americans who have died during ALL U.S. wars (under 1.4 million). Gun violence is one of the most important moral issues we face today.

There is something particularly insidious about the way we treat gun violence in this nation. Immediately after highly publicized shootings, public demands for action to curb such violence are strongly and quickly resisted by a relatively small group of extremists who always seem to triumph, no matter how absurd or dangerous their claims. They actively work to increase people’s fears, citing bogus “facts” to support what they say while deliberately intimidating anyone who disagrees with them.

That intimidation has a strong effect on politicians, who fear the wrath of the NRA and smaller groups of gun rights extremists. But the extremists also target ordinary citizens, showing up at public meetings carrying guns and attacking through social media and other means anyone calling for changes in gun regulations. People are understandably frightened when gun-toting bullies threaten them either directly or indirectly.

Extremists make the absurd claim that we can lower gun violence with easier access to guns. Reasonable people, including a huge percentage of gun owners, favor gun regulations that include stronger background checks for gun buyers along with measures to close loopholes and stop the spread of illegal guns. These are minimal ways to begin to address the gun crisis we have today.

Congress has a duty to listen to the reasonable people, not the extremists, and make us all safer. Legislators currently working on firearms regulation legislation must step up their efforts. And President Obama should also take action now to address loopholes that make it easy for violent people to get guns.

We the People must stand up to the bullies. Today’s epidemic of gun violence requires an urgent response. We must act now.

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