Like many of you, I woke up on Monday in horror to the news that there had been a mass shooting in Las Vegas. Fifty-eight people were dead and hundreds more wounded. I felt a rush of grief for the victims and their families, and anger at the man who could commit such an evil act. But alongside those emotions was the horrible feeling of familiarity as our country reacted to yet another act of gun violence.
We’ve seen how this has played out in the past. Everyone offers their thoughts and prayers, the news media uncovers facts about the shooter, we wonder if this will finally be the moment that pushes Congress to act on gun violence, and then they let us down. I’m sick of going through this cycle over and over, while more and more people continue to lose their lives to senseless gun violence. We can and should pass laws that promote responsible gun ownership and save lives.
We hear Republican politicians tell us “now is the not the time to call for legislation.” Don’t believe them. That tactic is meant to distract us from actually doing something about gun violence. The Republicans have successfully stopped any sensible gun legislation from being passed for decades. And tragedies like Las Vegas are stark evidence that the Republicans’ approach to this problem is clearly not working.
Why shouldn’t we try to stop this from happening again? Don’t we owe the victims and their families the solace that they didn’t die in vain? That something might come from their loss? Now is exactly the time not only to talk about this issue, but to move forward with reasonable gun legislation. To take the lessons we’ve learned from Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook and so many others, and pass reforms to keep the weapons of war out of the hands of those who would use them to do harm.
The NRA continues to impede our ability to pass sensible gun legislation because it would hurt the bottom line of gun manufacturers. The NRA has continuously opposed common sense reforms and poisoned the debate with baseless talking points, saying “Obama and the Democrats want to take away all your guns.” Congress has not allowed the Centers for Disease Control to even study gun violence since 1996 because the NRA forbids it. Now there’s a huge clue for you.
Universal background checks, magazine restrictions, and bans on assault weapons would lower gun deaths. The facts prove it. We cannot afford to stand idly by while Congress sits on their hands. I am the prime sponsor of SB 5441 to temporarily remove access to firearms to someone brought in on a 72 hour involuntary treatment hold. When mental health professionals, law enforcement, and family members find that someone poses a grave risk to themselves or others, we should listen. I’m also a sponsor of Senate Bill 5050, which would ban the sale and manufacturing of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines here in Washington State. Studies have found these policies lessen the likelihood of mass shootings and lower the amount of fatalities when shootings do occur. Whether or not large-capacity magazines have been banned is the single, best predictor of the mass shooting rate in any given state. As you would logically expect, of the states that have passed such laws, there is a 63% lower rate of mass shootings. I will also support legislation to ban “bump stocks”, a gun attachment that effectively turns semi-automatic weapons fully-automatic.
Now is the time for our leaders to demonstrate the political courage to stand up to moneyed interests and put the well-being of the American people first and foremost. The cold reality is that no matter what gun legislation we pass, we won’t be able to prevent every gun death. But if we can pass reforms that can dramatically lessen that potential, we have a moral obligation to do so. I am grieving for the Las Vegas victims and their families. I am angry at the evil man who would could commit such a terrible act. And I will continue to advocate for common-sense gun legislation. Because it is not enough to just say prayers. We have to act now.