Republicans are avoiding gun talks as election looms

Republicans are avoiding gun talks as election looms
© Getty Images

No parent should ever have to get that news. The news that 17 families received on Valentines Day. The news that their child — 14,15,16 years old — will not be coming home.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioScottish beer company offering ‘tiny cans’ for Trump’s ‘tiny hands’ The Hill's Morning Report — Trump readies for Putin summit: 'He’s not my enemy’ Overnight Defense: Fallout from tense NATO summit | Senators push to block ZTE deal in defense bill | Blackwater founder makes new pitch for mercenaries to run Afghan war MORE (R-Fla.), Gov. Rick Scott (R), Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders jockey for affection of House conservatives Five GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump walks back criticism of UK Brexit strategy | McConnell worries US in 'early stages' of trade war | US trade deficit with China hits new record MORE, President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE. They responded with distractions.

ADVERTISEMENT
“It’s too soon; you can’t legislate evil; he would have gotten a gun anyway; it’s mental illness.”

 

While Republicans desperately try to avoid the subject, some of their constituents are being slaughtered.  

Since Donald Trump was sworn in, our country has suffered it’s deadliest shooting in modern history, the deadliest house of worship shooting, and now the deadliest high school shooting.

They happened because dangerous individuals have easy access to firearms. If our leaders continue to make excuses, these massacres will continue.

Guns kill 38,000 Americans every year. These deaths are comprised of suicides, homicides, unintentional shootings, and these horrible large scale tragedies. But the answer from Republican leadership is always the same — there is nothing we can do. They have never been more wrong.  

As Republicans tremble, leaders are being born all around them. Last week we saw more compassion, poise, and bravery in the surviving students from Wednesday’s shooting than we have in all the hollow “thoughts and prayers” tweeted out by Republican officials.

If we want a safer nation for these children we must strengthen our weak gun laws. To do that, people who care about stopping this carnage must become single issue voters. Gun violence prevention voters. I am proposing the following litmus test that candidates must pass before they get your vote:

There is no one-size-fits-all law to stop gun violence but we can begin by removing guns from dangerous people. Contrary to popular mythology, mental illness is not an indicator of violence.

However, certain factors do show a clear risk of violence; factors like past violent behavior, anger issues, and substance abuse. Every state in the nation needs a tool in place to temporarily remove guns from someone known to be a danger to self or others.

These tools, often referred to as Extreme Risk Protection Orders, provide family members and law enforcement an avenue to subtract the guns from a crisis situation before tragedy occurs.

Domestic violence is one of the clearest indicators of future gun violence. We can save lives by, among other things; closing gaps in the law like the “boyfriend loophole” and requiring removal of firearms from domestic abusers.

Next, we need to get assault rifles off of our streets. A 19-year-old shouldn’t be able to legally purchase an AR-15 before they can buy a beer. These rifles have become the official gun of American mass shooters. They serve only one purpose — to kill a lot of people as quickly as possible.

Lastly, we must require background checks on every gun transfer. Laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people will succeed only if they are built on the foundation of a robust background check system.

It appears that Republican leadership still doesn’t get it. They haven’t gotten the message that doing nothing is no longer an option. It is now up to the voters to deliver that message.

Josh Horwitz is the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. He received his law degree from the George Washington University.