While definitions differ, Congress has defined a “mass killing” as one in which three or more people are killed in a single incident in a public place.
From Sandy Hook to Charleston, San Bernardino to Orlando, Las Vegas to Sutherland Springs, and many more in between, we have seen far too many of these tragedies and still Congress fails to act, telling us that “now is not the time” for a policy discussion about preventing gun violence in America.
This response from the White House and GOP is a typical refrain that has emerged after recent mass shootings have troubled our nation.
Against the wishes of most Americans, including most gun owners, this administration has made it clear where it stands on gun violence prevention. They’ve sided with the NRA. After the NRA spent $30 million to help him get elected, President Trump told an NRA convention audience “You’ve come through for me, and I’m going to come through for you.”
To be clear, the NRA does not represent most gun owners, 67 percent of whom say it has lost its original purpose of promoting gun safety and has been “overtaken by lobbyists and gun manufacturers.” Recent polls by Public Policy Polling and Quinnipiac University showed that 88 percent of gun owners support requiring a permit to carry a concealed gun in public, 86 percent support a ban on gun purchases for anyone convicted of domestic violence or stalking and 92 percent support mandatory background checks for all gun purchases, including those at gun shows.
During the campaign, Trump pledged to eliminate the laws supporting gun-free school zones, a top priority for the NRA. He promised, “I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools ... My first day. There’s no more gun-free zones.” This, despite the Center for Disease Control’s finding that school-associated student homicide rates have decreased dramatically since the enactment of federal laws prohibiting guns on the grounds of K-12 schools.
While Trump does not have the power to do this on his own, House Republicans have filed two proposals to gut the 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act. After recent mass shootings, lawmakers in the pocket of the NRA have offered their “thoughts and prayers” while refusing to acknowledge the root problem.
In spite of claiming that the Texas church shooting was “not a guns situation,” but a mental health issue, Trump signed an Executive Order last February overturning an Obama-era rule prohibiting Social Security recipients deemed unable to manage their own affairs because of a severe mental disability from buying guns.
He also supported a bill to make it easier for veterans with serious mental illness to buy guns, despite the opposition of myriad former generals and admirals who were concerned that possession of a firearm by these veterans would put at risk the safety of the veterans and our communities.
When it comes to protecting our communities from gun violence, the overwhelming majority of Americans, including most gun owners, agree. It’s time for a common-sense approach to gun safety, where the rights of law-abiding gun owners are protected and everyone can go about their lives without the fear of gun violence. The NRA may have a stranglehold on Congress, but Congress works for us – we must demand that they do their job, reject the gun lobby’s extreme agenda and protect our families by supporting common sense gun laws.
Carol Cure is co-chairwoman of Indivisible Durango’s Gun Safety Committee and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.