It pains us greatly to address once again the aftermath of shocking, senseless mass shooting incidents that have swept this country into a deadly vortex of evil.
But with the summer of 2019 shaping up into a summer of gun violence that has left Americans shaken to the core, we must again speak out.
At a vigil in Dayton, Ohio, after a mass shooting there, residents shouted “Do Something!” at their governor and local politicians in attendance.
They have it right. And we extend that call to our political leaders in every state and in Washington, D.C.
It’s time to set aside partisan differences and do something. Right now. And none of us should remain silent until this scourge on our national soul is erased.
The grim toll of the last few weeks began July 28 when a gunman opened fire at a festive community fair in Gilroy, Calif., leaving four dead, including the shooter, and 13 wounded. Two of the dead and many of the injured were children.
That incident, horrendous as it was, might have passed into memory as an isolated tragedy. Instead, it became the opening salvo to far deadlier back-to-back shootings the following weekend in El Paso, Texas, and in Dayton.
On a sunny Saturday morning, Aug. 3, at a Walmart in El Paso crowded with back-to-school shoppers, a gunman firing an automatic weapon killed 22 people and wounded 24 more.
Some 14 hours later, shortly after 1 a.m. Aug. 4 in an entertainment district in downtown Dayton, people enjoying a night on the town were gunned down outside a popular nightspot. Nine people were left dead and 27 wounded in a 30-second hail of bullets before police shots took the gunman down.
What can we do, without getting bogged down into a polarizing Second Amendment debate that would threaten to stall any progress?
We can start with some bills already on the table in Congress, like H.R. 8 and H.R. 112 that would greatly strengthen background checks for potential gun buyers. Both have already passed the Democrat-led House, and President Trump has publicly and privately supported the concept. It’s up to Republicans in the Senate to decide whether to bring the issue up for a vote.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia have also spoken about reviving a narrower background check bill they had previously proposed, which did not gain traction in the Senate.
The president has also called for an expansion of “red flag” laws, which would allow family members or police officers to petition a court to restrict access to firearms for individuals who might be a threat to themselves or others. Two such bills have already been introduced in the Senate, both with bipartisan sponsorship.
There also seems to be some bipartisan support for a variety of measures to monitor and/or combat domestic terrorism and hate crimes, a category which would likely include all of the above-noted shootings.
Of course, many Democrats are eager to revive the ban on assault weapons or high-capacity ammunition magazines, but the political moment is not yet here.
Still, enhanced background checks, red flag laws and a fight against domestic terrorism are all good places to start, and we’re calling on Congress—especially Senate Republicans under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—to step up for America.
Cardinal Dolan, who learned of the El Paso and Dayton shootings in an airport as he was returning home from vacation, wrote in a blog post that among his first thoughts were that “this is not the way God intends things.”
“This is not who we are as a people, as a community, as a nation, as creatures made in God’s image and likeness,” he wrote. “The dignity of the human person is supreme and cannot be chipped away by racism, bigotry, nationalism, or hatred of another.”
We pray that our political leaders agree, and will act in accordance with their responsibilities to protect the American people.