We must enact sane gun laws

A Chicago police officer was shot and wounded the same day another mass shooting took place in Oklahoma. Our nation needs laws that return safety to our streets, schools, supermarkets and everywhere else.

Police Supt.. David Brown speaks at a news conference, Wednesdayin Chicago, following the shooting of a Chicago police officer .

Police Supt. David Brown speaks at a news conference following the shooting of a Chicago police officer late Wednesday.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

America needs a sanity clause in its gun policies, as Chico Marx might say if he were still alive.

Allowing the nation to become awash in guns, including weapons of war, has led to one unspeakable tragedy after another. Yet Congress and many states do little or nothing. They look away from the mayhem and refuse to enact even minor reforms to reduce access to guns.

Maybe Chico was right. There ain’t no sanity clause.

On Wednesday, a Chicago uniformed police officer was shot just doing her job, attempting to make a traffic stop in West Englewood. Police said the driver of the car she and her partner were trying to pull over sped off and then slowed down. Then someone in the car fired into the police vehicle. The officer was taken to a hospital in serious condition. Later, her condition was changed to stable.

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According to the Officer Down Memorial Page website, 20 police officers have been killed by gunfire just this year across the country. If even police are targeted for gunfire, that’s an added sign America must do something significant about gun violence. These are the people who are out on the streets protecting the rest of us. If society doesn’t keep guns out of the hands of would-be shooters, we share responsibility for putting them at risk.

Mass shootings are another obvious sign we should do something.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Wednesday, a gunman killed two doctors and two others at an Oklahoma medical building. Police said the shooter was targeting a doctor he blamed for his back pain.

The Tulsa killings followed mass shootings at a Buffalo, New, York, supermarket on May 14 and a Texas elementary school on May 24.

In each case, the suspects legally bought an AR-15-style military-style right before the shooting. Making it harder, much harder, to get those weapons would clearly save a lot of lives.

No other advanced nation suffers from this incessant gun violence. As of Thursday, America suffered from 233 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive. We don’t have to live like this. Or, rather, die like this.

A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives called the Protecting Our Kids Act would raise the age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21. That makes sense. Six of the nine deadliest mass shootings in the United States since 2018 were by people who were 21 or younger, according to the New York Times.

The bill also would establish new offenses for gun trafficking and for selling large-capacity magazines and other measures. But the bill, which is supposed to go for a vote before the full House next week, is expected to die in the Senate, even though every day an average of 120 Americans die by gunfire.

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It’s been nearly 10 years since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The horrifying scenes of carnage motivated many people to call for reforms, but Congress never took action — and the violence continues.

Yet there are ways lawmakers could easily reduce gun violence, if they had the political will. Stiff registration requirements and fees could be imposed on military weapons of war. Gun manufacturers and gun dealers could be held responsible when they carelessly allow their firearms to fall into the wrong hands. Background checks could be strengthened. Gun owners in every state could be — should be — required to be licensed to own guns, just as they are to drive cars. “Ghost guns,” which are easily assembled firearms or weapons can be printed on a 3-D printer without serial numbers to evade federal laws, should be outlawed.

On Thursday evening, President Joe Biden passionately laid his proposals for reducing gun violence, which are similar to those other gun safety advocates have demanded, and called on lawmakers and voters to “hear the call and the cry” and “meet the moment.”

“It’s time to act,” Biden said. “ ... Let us finally do something.”

Exactly.

Our nation needs laws that return safety to our streets, schools, supermarkets, places of worship, theaters and medical facilities. We must keep identifying ways that could help reduce gun violence and put those ideas into practice instead of looking the other way.

That’s the only sane thing to do.

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