LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Accept the new normal or act to change it

There will be more mass shootings in this country and there will be more children shot to death in our streets. This is now what Americans expect and what the rest of the world expects to happen in the U.S. It is the new normal.

We also know what to expect from our elected officials after each shooting. They will tell us that their “hearts break for the families.” They will ask us to “take a moment to reflect on the lives that were taken from us by a senseless act.” They will tell us they “refuse to accept this as normal,” and then, they will say, “I’m not sure of the solution, but we must have a serious conversation.”

That’s the pattern: a shooting followed by our elected leaders posting pictures of the victims on Facebook and telling us to reflect, pray and have a serious conversation.

I’d like to suggest a few guidelines to our elected representatives if we have to have another conversation. Let’s not talk about background checks or better mental health care or lifting the ban on gun violence research. Let’s not debate whether it was domestic or international terrorism. And let’s not blame the NRA.

Citing how many sales were stopped by background checks ignores the fact 75 percent of guns used in mass shootings were obtained legally.

Let’s face reality and accept that the NRA is the front for the weapons manufacturers who can stay in the background selling guns while the NRA is out there doing what lobbyists are paid to do.

Before focusing on improved mental health care as a solution, consider the research of Dr. Jeffrey Swanson, professor of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine. “If you were to back out all the risk associated with mental illness that’s contributing to the 300,000 people killed by gunshot wounds in the last 10 years, you could probably reduce deaths by about 100,000 people. Ninety-five percent of the reduction would be from suicide. Only 5 percent would be from reducing homicide. Mental illness is a strong risk factor for suicide. It’s not a strong risk factor for homicide.”

So, let’s agree that background checks and better mental health care services are not going to reduce homicides. But one way to reduce the number of murders is to ban large-capacity magazine clips. This law would not reduce shootings, but it could reduce the carnage.

We urge Delaware legislators to pass a bill this session that would ban the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer or possession of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

We believe the Second Amendment, like all amendments to the U.S. Constitution, has parameters. We know our legislators will have to stand up to the pressure of those who think all gun legislation is unconstitutional, but unless they are willing to do just that, we will continue to pathetically light electronic candles on Facebook.

One last thought … On Jan. 8, 2011, six people were murdered and 13 wounded in an assassination attempt on U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford. The gunman carried two 33-round magazines. He was tackled while he tried to reload. One of his murder victims was 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. She was killed with the 13th bullet. Would it have made a difference if the killer had to reload after 10 rounds? No one can answer that question, but if banning large-capacity magazines could save a child’s life next year, we need to ban them this year.

Joanne Cabry
Chair, Progressive Democrats of Sussex County
Rehoboth Beach

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