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Let's Commit to Stop the Pain and Toll of Gun Violence

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NYPD POLICE TAPE
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Carson City Victims

"This kind of pain -- there's no medicine," said the grandmother of Major Heath Kelly, who, along with Christian Riege, Miranda McElhiney, and Florence Donovan-Gunderson, lost his life in the mass shooting at the Carson City IHOP last month.

The gunman, Eduardo Sencion, who was armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and high-capacity assault clips also wounded seven others. There undoubtedly is no medicine to cure the pain those victims, and their families and friends, now endure.

Over and over in America, dangerous people pull the triggers on their guns and instantly unleash the kind of pain that no prescription can dull or eradicate.

It happened Oct. 12 in a hair salon in Seal Beach, Calif., this summer at roller rinks and birthday parties and during parades, and in January in Tucson, Ariz.

Over and over in America, police, emergency room personnel, doctors, nurses, faith leaders and counselors tend to the wounded and their loved ones in hopes of treating the injuries to their bodies, minds and souls.

But the problem of gun violence in America is too large to lay in the laps of these outstanding community servants. And it does not belong to them. The tragic toll of gun violence belongs to us, all of us as Americans. No other high-income country sacrifices its citizens to gun violence the way America does.

Our rate of gun violence is nearly 20 times higher than in all other high-income nations combined.

These are losses that break our hearts and shatter our equilibrium. And we ought to be wholly impatient with any suggestion that nothing can be done about them. That's not who we are. That's not our DNA.

To honor the 80 Americans who lose their lives to gunfire every day and the families, and communities like Carson City, that suffer so grievously, let us do what we can to stop the toll of gun violence. Stop it in our neighborhoods, our schools and communities. Let's just commit to stop it.

I implore you to consider doing just one thing to stop the toll of gun violence.

Educate yourself. Host a candlelight vigil. Create a memorial. Write or post a video message about your experience with gun violence.

Visit an elected official, the way Lori Haas, mother to a child shot at Virginia Tech, does every day.

Join a group that's working to prevent gun violence. Start your own group.

Unload and store your gun separately from the ammunition. Ask friends if their guns are properly stored.

Call or write elected officials -- mayors, state legislators, members of Congress or the president. Tell them to require Brady criminal background checks on all gun purchases, not just those from licensed dealers. Tell them there is no place in our society for assault weapons and assault clips, which are the tools of mass killers.

Be courageous, like Jim Brady.

Relentless, like Sarah Brady.

Determined, like Colin Goddard, who was shot four times at Virginia Tech.

Fearless like Tom Mauser, who wears the shoes his son, Daniel, wore when he was killed at Columbine, so that people won't forget.

Take action, so that this kind of pain can stop.

Note: This blog was originally published as an op-ed by the Reno Gazette-Journal

Dennis Henigan is the Acting President of the Brady Campaign and author of Lethal Logic: Exploding the Myths that Paralyze American Gun Policy (Potomac Books 2009). Previous blogs by Dennis Henigan are also posted at the Brady Campaign's Brady Blog.