"A wonderful high school in a wonderful community." Sounds like most of our area high schools, right?
Those were the words Florida Congressman Ted Deutch spoke last week following a massacre at a high school in the district he represents. Seventeen were shot to death and 14 were injured by an 19-year old with known mental health issues who legally purchased an AR-15, a weapon originally manufactured by Colt for the U.S. military.
Students captured the shooting on their phones as they crouched behind overturned desks for protection. You hear gunfire and blood-curdling screams of terror.
A mom whose family splits their time between Parkland and Strongsville tearfully shared how she tried to comfort a boy. "He said, 'I saw my best friend die. His brains went everywhere'."
That sounds like a soldier's description of combat experience not a day at a wonderful high school in a wonderful community.
Here is what I believe the federal and state government needs to do to stop this "American carnage" and better protects us, especially kids in schools. Many of these ideas are drawn from recommendations made by the International Association of Chiefs of Police Firearms Position Paper.
Enforce existing gun laws and pass legislation to close the loophole that allows private sales by non-licensed sellers at gun shows or on the internet.
Enact legislation that prohibits anyone under age 21 from purchasing a firearm.
Establish a Firearms Offender Registry naming offenders who have been previously convicted of a felony firearm violation or a misdemeanor that involved violent or threatening acts with firearms. It's the same notion as the established sex offenders registry.
Re-institute the assault weapon ban. There is utterly no good reason for a civilian to have such a weapon. NONE. When this law was in effect from 1994-2004, the number of crimes associated with these weapons dropped by 66%. This law would ban gun manufacturers from producing semi-automatic weapons and ammunition magazines holding more than ten rounds except for use by U.S. military and law enforcement.
Fund mental health services for youth and adults to ensure there is access to treatment and recovery. I believe the statistics that assert high percentages of Americans are suffering from depression, suicidal and homicidal thoughts. I am far more worried about a U.S. citizen falling through the cracks of an underfunded mental health system, grabbing an AR-15 and killing dozens of innocents than I am building a multi-billion dollar wall that we know won't stop illegal immigration.
Ohio needs to enact legislation creating an Extreme Risk Protection Order. This would allow a family or police to petition a court to temporarily suspend a person's access to firearms if there is documented evidence that an individual is threatening harm to themselves or others. Police were called 39 times to the house where the Parkland Fl shooter lived. 39. Had this been law in Florida, they could have petitioned the court to take his firearms. This is law in five states and under consideration in more than 12, but not Ohio.
"They" think we will forget in time. "They" think we will forget about Sandy Hook where 26 were killed, 20 of whom were little children. Since then, there have been 239 school shootings with 138 killed and 438 injured, according to Gun Violence Archive. "They" think the images from last year of a Las Vegas concert with 59 killed and 422 injured; a Texas church, 27 killed, 20 injured; or a Cincinnati nightclub, 2 killed, 15 injured; will fade.
Time's up. Just like time was up this year for serial sexual predators, time is up for those who buy or sell guns illegally. Time is up for elected officials who weep crocodile tears, while pocketing gun money and do nothing to stop the carnage.
I'm a gun owner but I believe in responsible ownership. I happen to believe that many gun owners who belong to the National Rifle Association or the GOP are responsible gun owners, too. The majority of Americans want stronger background checks, want the gun show/internet loophole closed, want people who should not possess a gun - felons, domestic abusers, mentally ill, those on the no fly list - to not have access and we want our families to return home everyday.
If "they" take no action again, we can let them know their time is up. Once upon a time, there was a powerful tobacco lobby in this country. When enough Americans died from lung disease, their time was up. We can let inert public officials who refuse to enact common sense gun legislation know their time is up come Election Day.