America's Lack of Gun Regulation Is Shameful Political Cowardice

The failure to implement even the most general or common sense reforms in the light of 800 mass shootings is an absolute refusal to lead on the part of Congress. It's a flat out disregard for the safety of American citizens. It's shameful political cowardice.
08/27/2015 10:56 am ET Updated Aug 27, 2016

I'll keep this short(ish).

I wish I wasn't writing this. Again. As I wrapped up my morning run yesterday, alert after alert popped up on my phone telling me that there had been yet another senseless shooting in America. This time on live television. So here we go, another op-ed piece wondering why we've seen no meaningful reform on gun violence in this country.

Thousands and thousands of people, myself included, have been trying to get this discussion going for years. There have been more than 800 mass shootings since Sandy Hook, and politicians still don't care beyond the minimum expected lip service immediately following an incident.

Have we seen any reforms to prevent weapons and ammunition from making their way into the hands of the mentally ill? No.

Have we seen any progress on creating national standards for background checks on gun buyers? No way.

Have we seen any efforts to restrict the most dangerous weapons, the highest capacity magazines, or the most damaging ammunition? Not a chance.

The failure to implement even the most general or common sense reforms in the light of 800 mass shootings is an absolute refusal to lead on the part of Congress. It's a flat-out disregard for the safety of American citizens. It's shameful political cowardice.

When Australia had a sickening mass shooting, they banded together as a nation and took action. When we have a mass shooting, the NRA pushes for more guns. What happened to America being an example for the world?

As I always must, let me clarify: I am not advocating for a total ban on firearms. I am a proud gun owner myself and believe strongly in Americans' right to bear arms. Our constitution guarantees that right. It does not, however, guarantee the right to bear arms without regulation. In fact, the word "regulated" is clearly present in the second amendment.

The government regulates all kinds of industries and products to ensure the safety of the American public. Take cars, for instance: before you are allowed to drive one, you have to take and pass both a written and operational test to get a driver's license. Those licenses are regulated by a government agency. You need to have car insurance. If you're diagnosed with certain medical conditions, you may lose your right to get behind the wheel.

All of these things are true, because while we as a nation see the value of cars, we also acknowledge that careless ownership and operation of motor vehicles can be dangerous to the public, and we believe that if we can prevent unnecessary harm to each other, we should. It's time we apply that same standard to gun ownership.

Our leaders in Washington must recognize these basic truths and have the courage to stand up to the "all-powerful" gun lobby. Yes, the NRA is a powerful interest group. Yes, it's tough for an elected official to go against their campaign donors' wishes. But your responsibility lies with the American people--a people who face the horror of random violence in movie theatres, elementary schools, and now their morning newscasts. If just a few of you used your backbone, you could potentially save hundreds, or thousands, of Americans who will be future victims of gun violence.

I hope I'm wrong and somehow the cacophony of voices begging for change is heard, because it's a sad day when the greatest nation in the world cannot take simple action to protect her citizens. I hope the public remembers this tragedy and everyone before and after it on election day. I hope that everyone who wants to own a gun has to go through training, background checks, and mental health screening. It's the right thing to do.

I'll leave you with this funny video about something that is deadly serious. It would be great if the same people who held more than 50 (unsuccessful) votes to repeal Obamacare could take just one vote to protect American families.