Las Vegas Sun

July 20, 2019

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It’s long past time to engage each other on gun violence

Please, make this the one.

Make the Las Vegas massacre the turning point for meaningful action to address our nation’s epidemic of gun violence.

Sandy Hook wasn’t, sadly. Neither was the Pulse nightclub or any number of other mass shootings that have occurred since.

If there’s anything positive to come from the violence in Las Vegas, let it be a sustained effort to reduce the gun carnage afflicting America.

Those on each side must lower their guards and step toward one another. Gun-control advocates must propose solutions that focus on limiting the lethal capacity of firearms and preventing mentally ill people from getting access to weapons. Gun-rights advocates must acknowledge that reasonable efforts to limit the likelihood of mass carnage are not equivalent to suggesting gun confiscation.

If both sides will pledge to make progress, then our tragedy won’t be in vain and the suffering of the victims and this community will be properly honored.

The rhetoric surrounding gun laws is foolishly binary. Every regulation is not the slippery slope to mass gun seizures, as some gun advocates claim. Meanwhile, there are gun advocates who have reasonable concerns about sporting weapons and self-protection.

The Second Amendment allows for a “well regulated Militia” and clearly does not permit any and all weapons to be in the hands of the public. On the spectrum from muzzleloaders to atomic weapons, there is a reasonable landing place for this nation to agree upon.

Our nation’s leaders have a responsibility to set the tone for civilized discourse and abandon efforts to score political wins at all costs.

Leaders who forge responsible public policy will ensure the violence we’ve endured counts for something greater. We can create a future which saves lives not yet lost in massacres not yet committed.

Americans can make that happen. We’ve made progress on other issues in which we once seemed hopelessly divided, notably civil rights.

The key is to step out of our encampments and engage one another with a solutions-based mindset that seeks a reasonable middle ground.

It’s about tackling the social problems and creating a greater safety net for the mentally ill. It’s about reducing bullying and social isolation. It’s about finding better ways to spot warning signs and giving officials more capacity to investigate and prevent firearm access to criminals and the mentally unstable. We must allow the Centers for Disease Control to study gun violence in America — something blocked today by gun advocates in Congress.

And yes, it’s about delivering policies that address the proliferation of guns in the U.S. capable of inflicting mass casualties. We must recognize that high-capacity magazines, silencers, armor-piercing bullets and bump-stock devices like the ones Stephen Paddock used have no sensible role in public life. Paddock would not have injured 500-plus people with a lever-action rifle or even semi-automatic rifles with a limited-capacity magazine. Likewise, imagine how many more would have died if Paddock’s guns had silencers.

No, these massacres are not “the price of liberty,” as some have suggested. These massacres are the price of a society that refuses to locate a sane position that respects rights and also respects public safety.

People who say now is not the time for this discussion are correct. We should have done it before the massacre. But we didn’t, so we have to now. This is definitely the time, because another massacre is coming unless we get busy as a society.

When people can’t safely go to a concert, that’s a problem for all of us. When people have to worry about sending their children to school, or going out to a nightclub with their friends, or to class on a college campus, that’s a national crisis.

Please, let Las Vegas be the impetus to break us out of our camps, address the causes of the violence and stop this dystopian horror.

No American can be remotely comfortable with what’s happening. Let Las Vegas be the road to progress.