We can change the trend of fatal shootings by voting in November

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Friday morning’s shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas exposes us to the latest “breaking news” alerts on our televisions, smartphones and tablets. I happened to be in O’Hare Airport in Chicago when the first reports flashed on the overhead televisions: “School Shooting,” “Multiple Fatalities,” “Suspect in Custody.” My fellow passengers lifted their heads to the screens, nodded sadly, then went back to what they were doing.

Meanwhile, in Santa Fe, families prepared to bury their dead, now never able to return to true normalcy. There’s nothing “breaking” about this breaking news, folks. It’s the same old story. The shooting, the pause to gasp, the shaking of heads, the fleeting question about when something finally will be done, the resignation that nothing will be done, the return to watching whatever we were streaming, reading or working on before we were interrupted by the most recent tragedy, and then the forgetting.

{mosads}The Republican leaders of Congress will immediately consult their “Post Shooting Emergency Response Manual.” It goes like this: Sorrowfully tweet thoughts and prayers, lower flags to half-staff, hold moments of silence, suggest arming teachers (or insert appropriate occupation here), and wait it out.

You can chart it on a graph. It’s the “4 Stages of Gun Lobby Grief.”

Stage 1 is the shock and uptick in public support for some reasonable gun safety standards, usually shared across party affiliation and gun owners. Expect up to a week of intensity.

Stage 2 brings the rationalizations of why reasonable gun safety standards would not have stopped this particular shooter. Give a few more days for this transition.

Stage 3 turns the tide, when defense goes on offense. Now the argument morphs into calls for even more guns in more hands.

Stage 4 is when the shock wears off, and we mostly forget, consumed by the next wave of “breaking news” on Donald Trump, Robert Mueller, maybe even a royal wedding.

That’s the usual cycle, proven by shooting after shooting. Remember Las Vegas, when President Trump and even the NRA opened the door to regulating bump stocks after reports that their use may have made the shooter’s weapons even more deadly?

Here’s what happened: Congress punted to the president, who ordered the attorney general to rewrite existing regulations. The public comment period for the new regulation expires on June 27. Earlier this month, Reuters reviewed 4,200 of more than 17,000 public comments received, and 10 favored a bump stock ban, while almost all the rest opposed it. So let’s see how that goes.

In the weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, student energy was like nuclear fusion. Optimism was high. Change was around the corner. It was just a matter of time. Now it’s a matter of a midterm election, which is just around the corner, in November. It’s up to them because my fellow passengers at the airport and many of my former colleagues in Congress have demonstrated an ability to cluck tongues rather than to act.

Here’s why my post-Parkland optimism isn’t diminished by Santa Fe. A few weeks after the Parkland shooting, I was invited to address a student rally at my local town hall, in Huntington on Long Island, New York. For six years before my 2000 election to Congress, I was a town councilman there. If we wanted to attract a rally of 30 people, we basically had to offer free pizza. But when I arrived in March, I saw thousands.

My political instincts generated two observations. First, half of the crowd was too young to vote and, I thought, wouldn’t be able to swing an election. Second, the other half of the crowd were adults who had to drive their kids to the rally.

Usually, parents drive children to the polls to teach them about voting. In November, if children send their parents to the polls to vote to keep them safe in schools, maybe we’ll finally see the change we need.

Maybe some seats in Congress will be lost instead of the lives of innocent young people who sat for a day of classes at Santa Fe High School. The only way to see change is to vote this November.

Steve Israel represented New York in Congress for 16 years. He is the author of the novel “Big Guns.” Follow him on Twitter @RepSteveIsrael.

Tags America Congress Donald Trump Election Guns Robert Mueller Steve Israel

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