Gun violence: Save the thoughts and prayers, it’s time for Senate action

This weekend, as we pause to remember the women, men and families who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, we will do so with the reality of gun violence lurking in the backdrop. 

As a father of three and as a law-abiding gun owner, it pains me to use these words: Our families should be safe. My children and yours should be free from harm.

After more than 200 mass shootings this year, including 12 just this past weekend, and yesterday’s deadly shooting in San Jose, Calif., Congress should be shocked into action. And yet, here we are. 

The Bipartisan Background Checks bill sits dormant in the U.S. Senate, bogged down by those senators with blind allegiance to the NRA, instead of the more than 90 percent of Americans — including gun owners — who support universal background checks for gun ownership.

The “thoughts and prayers” so often offered by public officials to the victims and survivors simply aren’t working.

It’s time for Senate action. It’s time to act on behalf of the children and families whose stories remain unfinished. It’s time to act on behalf of the over 100 lives taken every day by guns, in acts of violence that don’t make news headlines but change families forever. It’s time for a Senate vote to see who stands with American families that want to protect their right to live.

I have a simple question: What are we waiting for? The refusal to act — the cowering in fear of big money — is perhaps the greatest cruelty of all.

As a lifelong sportsman and gun owner, as a father, and now as the head of Brady PAC, it’s difficult to reconcile Senate inaction with the will of law-abiding gun owners, concerned parents, teachers, law enforcement and most of the public at large. It is also difficult to understand a failure to put bills on the Senate floor when this perspective hits so close to home. 

Plenty of senators and representatives get it. 

Certainly those members who hid beneath seats in the House Chamber or fled the Senate during the violent insurrection of the Capitol on Jan. 6 should get it.

If not, they could ask Reps. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) and Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), three survivors of gun violence.

They could have a conversation with former member of Congress Gabby Giffords who now leads a bipartisan national movement after being shot in an assassination attempt while meeting with constituents. They could even talk to Republican members who were targeted during morning baseball practice.

There unfortunately is no shortage of incidents and plenty of context for Congress to understand the harm that guns are doing to our communities and to our families.

 And yet, here we are. Mass shootings are only increasing, and the Senate remains silent.

The NRA has pulled out all the stops for its response to Congress’s attempt to curb gun violence, including a $2 million ad campaign to oppose background checks that have support on both sides of the aisle. These checks keep guns out of the hands of people we all agree should not have them. 

The NRA and its A-rated disciples instead cite mental health without ever bothering to pass any actual legislation to address it. The NRA will selectively read parts of the Second Amendment, while willfully ignoring the full picture — the thousands of Americans who die from gun violence every year.

It’s time for a Senate vote for the children who take active shooter drills, for any parent who has ever had to identify their child’s gunshot body, for the minority communities disproportionately impacted by gun violence and for any American who lives in fear when they go to the grocery store or to a movie theater.

This isn’t difficult. These policies are well-supported by gun owners and non-gun owners across the nation. Our namesakes, Jim and Sarah Brady, found a bipartisan way to get this done three decades ago when gun violence was not the public health epidemic that it is today.

Brian Lemek is a gun owner, sportsman and the executive director of Brady PAC.

Tags gun restrictions Gun rights gun violence Lucy McBath Mass shootings San Jose shooting Second Amendment Steven Horsford Veronica Escobar

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