Begin the journey — now — to make America safe from assault weapons
It won’t be easy. Too many people own assault weapons. Too many businesses profit from selling them. Too many politicians put their careers ahead of stopping gun violence.
Bit by bit, year by year, America has put itself in the crosshairs of weapons of war, inviting carnage. In one tragedy after another, increasingly common military-style assault weapons are used to end the lives of unsuspecting innocents.
Now, bit by bit, year by year, America must reverse course. We need not live in a nation where everyone at a church, theater, school, parade or other gathering fears they or their loves ones may be the next to die.
It won’t be easy. Too many people own assault weapons. Too many businesses profit from selling them — more than $1 billion over the last decade. Too many politicians put their careers ahead of stopping gun violence. Too often, the courts put guns ahead of lives.
But America must start on this journey.
The U.S House declined to take a step on Wednesday, putting an assault weapons ban on hold, perhaps until August. Maybe the House was mindful the bill wouldn’t get through the current Senate. But the Cook County Board on Thursday passed a resolution calling on the Illinois General Assembly and Congress to immediately ban assault weapons.
One step to gun sanity would be to require the registration of assault weapons. A bill in the Legislature would make possession of an assault weapon illegal in Illinois unless the gun was both owned before the bill becomes law and is registered with the state police.
Yes, a patchwork of local laws is insufficient. Highland Park was one of the few communities to enact an assault weapons ban when the Legislature offered a ridiculously brief window to act as part of Illinois’ concealed carry law. Yet the alleged shooter at the July 4 parade was able to buy an AR-15-style weapon elsewhere and bring it to Highland Park. Seven people died, 48 were injured and a community was devastated.
If enough state and local governments enact their own laws, it might encourage Congress to act, not only on assault weapons, but also on other firearms used daily to wreak mayhem on the streets of America.
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People shouldn’t have to live in an America where they look for escape exits at public gatherings. They shouldn’t have to fear someone with a powerful weapon might start shooting at any moment. Most Americans support stronger laws to regulate military-style assault weapons.
As of Thursday, the nation has suffered from 372 mass shootings this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
We don’t have to live — or die — this way.
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