Let’s face the truth: Guns are the problem

Americans cannot allow ourselves to be distracted from the need for common sense federal gun regulation to keep our communities safe.

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Officer Fernanda Ballesteros is greeted by fellow officers outside of the University of Chicago Medical Center at E 57th St and S Maryland Ave, Monday, June 6, 2022.

Officer Fernanda Ballesteros, who was shot last week on the South Side, is greeted by fellow officers outside the University of Chicago Medical Center on June 6.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

America, we have a problem.

What a travesty it is that many of our elected leaders — mostly Republicans, another truth to face — would rather bury their heads in the sand than stop the bloodshed created by the crippling gun violence that is ravaging our country.

Deflect any talk about guns. Run your mouth about baby formula, inflation, gas prices, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s troubling relationship. Anything but guns, the GOP’s strategy has been since the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, private discussions and memos obtained by Rolling Stone show.

“Just wait this out,” is what one longtime Republican consultant has been telling candidates. “The media will start chasing something else soon....”

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Nope. Not happening. We will not look away and pretend that guns are not a deadly scourge.

Not when two Chicago police officers, a U.S. marshal and his K-9 dog were wounded in shootings in the city within five days.

Not when a 14-year-old girl was killed and eight others wounded in a shooting in a Phoenix strip mall Saturday morning.

Not when hours later three more people were gunned down and at least 11 others wounded in downtown Philadelphia.

Not when the next day, three additional victims were killed and 14 wounded near a night club in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

American citizens, members of the media included, must keep belaboring why common sense federal gun regulation is needed to keep our communities safe. That was certainly on the mind of attendees at the U.S. Conference of Mayors 90th Annual Meeting in Reno and its keynote speaker Vice President Kamala Harris.

“No 86-year-old should fear for her safety to go to the grocery store,” Harris said in her speech. “No 9-year-old should be afraid to go to school. And no 18-year-old should be able to buy a weapon of war.”

Those pulling the trigger clearly need mental help. But without laws that could keep these unstable individuals from purchasing these weapons as easily as buying a dozen doughnuts, firearms will keep ending up in the wrong hands time and time again.

People do kill people. However, if guns were taken out of the equation, the body count stemming from violent acts would be drastically reduced.

The gunman in Uvalde, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, had been inside Robb Elementary for more than an hour before officers, waiting outside, went in. Armed “good guys” clearly knew they had no chance against a teenager wielding an AR-15-style assault rifle. Second Amendment advocates who say guns are not an issue are deluding themselves — and trying to gaslight everyone else.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul Monday signed a law that will prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from buying a semiautomatic rifle.

The momentum must keep building at a national level.

As Fernanda Ballesteros, one of the Chicago police officers shot last week, left the University of Chicago Medical Center Monday to a cheering crowd, Police Supt. David Brown called on Congress “to come up with some sensible gun laws.”

“Any sensible person” supports a ban on assault weapons, the top cop said.

Unfortunately, not all our leaders in Washington care enough to put common sense and the safety of their constituents above their need for power and control.

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The House this week is expected to vote on a package of gun safety measures that would raise the age limit for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21.

The bill, among other measures, would also establish new offenses for gun trafficking and for selling large-capacity magazines.

But the bill, called the Protecting Our Kids Act, probably won’t be taken up by the Senate due to Republican opposition.

Senators from both parties are apparently working together to strike a compromise over gun safety legislation.

It is hard to say if anything will change since Republican senators have spent the last several years blocking gun control measures.

But until these unreasonable leaders stop deflecting and denying that guns are the root cause of the carnage, children, police officers, clubgoers, house of worship attendants, grocery store shoppers and everyone else doing nothing but going about their daily activities will keep getting shot.

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