Gun safety reform.

  I was living in Jerusalem at the time of the First Gulf War. I learned to put gas masks on my kids, just in case the Scud missiles coming from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq were tipped with chemical loads. When my parents, frantic with worry, called from Europe, I tried to explain that, while it was true that we were not safe anywhere in Israel, we were statistically at low risk of dying in a rocket attack.

  We are at that same point now in the US, and particularly in Texas. We are statistically at low risk of dying in a mass shooting. And yet, we are not safe in our schools, not in our houses of worship, not at Walmart, not on our roads. While risk cannot ever be brought to zero, we can take measures to limit casualties from gun violence if we have the political will to do it – and it does not even involve invading a country half a world away.

  The argument that more guns mean a safer environment is hogwash pushed by the NRA. The US has more weapons than other countries, yet has a higher mortality rate from guns. Texas has more guns and laxer gun laws than most other states, yet has seen more tragic shootings. On September 1st further deregulation of gun use went into effect. Governor Abbott could have vetoed those toxic bills but chose not to. His lamenting gun deaths sounds increasingly hollow.

  We are not powerless. We can press our elected officials to enact strict background checks and close the gun show, personal sale, interstate traffic and other loopholes. We can adopt “red flag” laws. Roughly 80 % of Americans would support those measures. Other measures have less public support, but should also be considered, for instance a national register of guns, similar to car registration. The federal assault weapons ban (1994 to 2004), which Congress refused to renew, could be passed again, with an added provision banning large capacity magazines.

  Mass shootings evoke a particular horror, but most gun deaths derive from suicide or family violence. Veterans are too frequently the victims of suicide. How about better care of PTSD acquired while serving our country? How about doing more to prevent family violence, which mostly victimizes women and children, by taking guns away from offenders?

  The NRA mantra that “a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun” rarely proves true. In too many cases the good guys are unprepared, untrained, outgunned, and end up as the first victims. The first step to reducing gun violence is a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and keeping guns out of the hands of those who would harm themselves and others. The US suffers over 30,000 gun deaths yearly. That number represents about 70 % of Rockwall’s population. Gone. This must stop. Let’s get to work.

Note: Marie-Anne wrote this post and originally submitted it to the Rockwall Herald Banner. It was not printed, as there was a fight brewing between the chairpeople of the Rockwall Democrats and Republicans. Personally (in other words this does not necessarily reflect the views of other Rockwall Democrats) I would support Beto O’Rourke’s addition of a voluntary buyback of assault weapons. It seems the idea is gaining traction among some progressives, but I am not sure it could get passed.

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