A gunman recently massacred 19 children and two teachers with a legally obtained AR-15-style rifle at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, a small town of about 16,000. A shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 people just four years ago. The Uvalde shooting comes a decade after the massacre at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School left 26 dead.
Shouldn’t a child be safe at school? Aren’t we tired of “thoughts and prayers” for the families of these children?
This is not about the Second Amendment because the answer is right in front of us. Our founders envisioned a well-regulated militia, not the AR-15, which can carry high-capacity magazines and is far too easy to obtain today. We know that Texas has a gun culture unlike many others, and Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law last year that made Texas a Second Amendment sanctuary for federal gun laws.
This is about governance. Our leaders, Republicans and Democrats, must stand up for the children who are not with us and who will not have the opportunity to grow up and have families of their own.
Unfortunately, the deaths of these children have been repeatedly treated as collateral damage we incur for our right to own a firearm.
One state should not set the tone for the other 49 states. Texas leaders have rejected calls to tighten gun laws and have talked only about improving school safety and mental health counseling without addressing the tougher questions that require elections. The answers are right in front of us: raising the age to buy an AR-15 to 25 and raising the age to own a handgun from 18 to 21.
The person who murdered all those kids in Uvalde wasn’t old enough to order a beer, but he got a military style rifle. We need to close loopholes in internet sales and gun show purchases, strengthen background checks and require them for anyone who wants to buy a gun. We need to ban all assault rifles. Does anyone really need an AR-15 to go hunting? Nobody needs a gun like that.
President Joe Biden recently called on Congress to “enact safe storage laws and repeal immunity that protects gun manufacturers from liability.”
Recently, media outlets noted that the Robb Elementary shooter has been sued and hinted at possible action against the gun manufacturer. We can solve this problem and no more children need to die. Congress has the power to make these changes.
The deaths of these children must count for more than the NRA’s endorsement. Our elected officials have the power to pass legislation that will make a difference. Or are these deaths just “collateral damage?”
The parents and grandparents of these children know what the right answer is for children who won’t be around for Christmas and birthdays. And they will understand better than the rest of us why changes need to be made.
Can it happen here? He already has it at a coffee shop in Seattle, a high school in Marysville and a party in Mukilteo. According to an editorial in the Seattle Times, lawmakers must also issue extreme protective orders, which are helpful in preventing suicide and violence. These extreme risk protection orders, or “red flag laws,” were overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2016. These protection orders have not been used as often as they should be, with 16 counties not filed no ERPOS, as they are called.
So far, only King County has established the kind of robust multi-agency coordination needed to implement and respond to protective orders led by Sandra Shanahan, who heads the Regional Domestic Violence Firearms Enforcement Unit. But King County, with more resources, should be able to consult with rural areas. State lawmakers recently created the Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention to help combat gun violence. Other states should learn from the efforts of King County and our legislators.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact email@example.com.