Years ago when I was president of the nation's largest gun violence prevention organization, a terrible school shooting occurred. I forget now which one, but I will never forget the press calls that poured in during the hours that immediately followed the tragedy. With one exception, all of the calls came in from overseas. The calls were from reporters, and they were all asking in one form or another, was this America's wake-up call? Was this the shooting that would jar Americans to their collective senses? Was this tragedy so large, so shocking that the American people would rise up and say, "Enough"?
Not even close. Since that mass shooting, whichever one it was, there have been countless more. In elementary schools, high schools, colleges, offices, shopping centers, laundries, bars, churches, a political gathering, any place where lots of people congregate. And while the scale of the shootings has varied, the trend is toward ever more victims, not less. The shooters, like the one in Aurora, Colo., are not just trying to shoot and kill; they are trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for Firearm Mayhem.
And every time a major gun tragedy occurs the politicians offer their obligatory condolences to the families, the gun lobby says that it's not the time to talk about gun violence, and the news commentators ask, "What kind of crazy man would kill so many innocent people?" Few bother to ask, "What kind of crazy gun laws would permit these shooters to get so heavily armed?"
I will not listen to this broken record anymore, and I hope you will not either. Turn off the TV. Put down the newspaper. There is only one appropriate response to this horrific gun tragedy and all of its predecessors. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, and, most importantly, tell your elected-Representatives in Washington, "Enough."
In 1994, Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law an assault weapons ban that barred the further manufacture of assault weapons, like the AR-15 that was used in the Colorado shooting. It also banned high-capacity ammunition magazines, like the 100-round drum that was used in the shooting. That ban expired in 2004. Had that ban still been in effect, it's highly unlikely that the alleged shooter would have had that weaponry in his possession. Since the assault weapons ban was lifted, the gun manufacturers have flooded the country with assault rifles and high capacity ammunition magazines. Mass murderers have been the beneficiary and the American people the victim.
I cannot tell you with any precision how many assault weapons are now in private hands, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that it is enough. We don't need any more assault weapons flooding our communities. If anyone tells you differently, ask them how many more assault weapons do we need? How many more innocent people will have to die before we stop producing military weaponry for civilian use?
Gun violence apologists will insist that a determined psychopath will always get their hands on the guns, no matter how hard we tighten the gun laws. Perhaps. But do we have to make it so dead easy? Our gun laws permit suspected terrorists to walk into any gun store, buy an assault weapon or any other kind of firearm, and walk out with it. At gun shows, unlicensed gun dealers are permitted to sell guns without questions or paperwork. That's because your elected-representatives do not want to interfere with anyone's "right" to sell guns to terrorists, gun traffickers, convicted criminals, drug abusers, and psychopaths. And right now, even as you read this, legislators in Congress are trying to pass a national concealed "carry" law that would permit individuals like George Zimmerman to take their state-issued "concealed carry" license and carry a concealed handgun in all 50 states.
If our gun laws strike you as insane, then you should join with me in telling members of Congress and all those running for Congress: "We don't need any more gun violence: Enough."
Don't bother telling Congress what to do about it. Preventing gun violence is not rocket science. Even Congress can figure it out. Just tell them, "Enough." And keep telling them, "Enough," until they actually do something about it. Shout it. Mail it. Email it. Post it. Tweet it.
Until enough people say "enough," shootings, like the one in Aurora, Colo., will continue to produce more innocent victims, and the same old cycle of shock, grieving, condolences, and inaction.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from gun violence. Enough.
Mr. Walker is the former President of Handgun Control, Inc., now called the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. His views are his own.
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