Bills like H.R. 8 should be signed into law, and the age to purchase a high-caliber semiautomatic weapon that can hold a high-capacity magazine should be the same as it is to purchase a handgun. We must also build, at the federal level, on successes like Florida’s “Red Flag” law, that allow police officers and relatives to petition to temporarily confiscate firearms from individuals who may pose a danger.
Had H.R. 8 been signed into law, it would not have prevented the carnage in Uvalde — the murderer passed a background check. But it would have prevented other killings. Had the age to purchase a semiautomatic weapon been 21, it certainly wouldn’t have prevented Sandy Hook because the killer stole weapons, but it might have prevented Uvalde.
Careful, well-designed policy may not win headlines or make good fodder for campaign spots. But we know that it can save lives. And we know that real legislative solutions can pass in Washington. Following Sutherland Springs, a bipartisan bill was passed by Congress called “Fix NICS.” When this piece of legislation was signed into law, it updated the database that’s searched every time a background check is performed with more than six million additional records. This vastly improved our ability to stop the wrong people from buying guns.
We also must be prepared in case guns do find their way into the wrong hands. We need to protect our most vulnerable places, like schools, churches, and hospitals. We need to ensure local law enforcement is trained in the most effective ways of dealing with mass shooters.
We are not helpless, and if the people we elect to address our country’s tough challenges think nothing can or should be done beyond thoughts, prayers and complaining about the filibuster, then it’s time we help them find a new career.
These ideas aren’t new, but for any fixes to become law, we need to agree that the situation we find ourselves in — our supermarkets, schools and hospitals becoming battlefields — is a national emergency.
Mass shootings don’t have to be a fact of life. They are preventable. However, we can’t retreat to our political corners and repeat the same tired talking points. We are going to have to work with people we disagree with and in many cases don’t even like, and we are going to have to adopt solutions that some of our traditional constituencies may not like. We must do this to stop our moms and dads from receiving a phone call no parent should ever have to get and to prevent our children from living in fear.