Friday, April 20, 2007

What Are We Going To Do About It?

I've been accused of "ambulance chasing" for raising this issue now; I've been accused of "politicizing" the Virginia Tech tragedy (although let's be real--I'm not the fool who's claiming "The Left" is responsible for Cho's actions). I'm unapologetic. No ambulance chasing, no politics. I'm just asking the question we should all be asking: What are we going to do about? And if now is not the time to ask it, then when is? After the next tragedy?

The following is from the blog of the Brady Campaign:

32 dead: What are we going to do about it?
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech, and with the families who have lost loved ones and been forced to endure such a terrible loss. 32 dead, and 15 wounded - the worst single mass shooting in U.S. history.

It has been eight years this week since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed twelve students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. It has been two years since ten people were killed at Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota. Six months ago, a lone gunman shot and killed all five female students at an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

In the coming weeks, even more details will emerge about the Virginia Tech shooter and how our weak gun laws allowed him to arm himself. Pundits and politicians will offer condolences, caution against hasty action, and try to understand the pathology of the shooter.

Instead of focusing only on the one incident, we all need to look toward the future and ask:

What are we going to do about this?

It’s long past time to have a serious national conversation about gun violence. It’s past time for us to agree that something is wrong when an individual with such obvious signs of instability can legally arm himself with the extraordinary firepower necessary to murder so many innocent people. Something is wrong when thirty-two people die from gun violence inflicted by others, not just at Virginia Tech on April 16, but every day in this country. Obviously, what we’re doing now is not working.

Some people don’t want to have this conversation. They’re content to repeat platitudes, make excuses, nitpick proposals, and postpone taking action. They accuse the rest of us of “politicizing” the issue, while they hide behind the gun lobby’s talking points.

The first comments from President Bush, through a spokeswoman, were that he “believes that there is a right for people to bear arms,” but then later said that now was not an appropriate time to discuss policy. If not now, when is it time?

It is not “politicizing” the tragedy to ask what we can do to make ourselves and our families safe from gun violence. When politicians and pundits deny that a problem exists and that is susceptible to policy revisions and cling to their ideological fenceposts instead of coming to the table with honest ideas, it is they who must stop the political posturing. They have to ask themselves how they can help keep our communities and our schools safe.

We have to insist that they respond when we ask them, “What are you going to do about this?”

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