Our country can't continue like this.
The past few weeks feel like the United States has hit a new low when it comes to deadly gun violence.
Eleven people killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue. Two people killed in a Tallahassee yoga studio. Another 12 people killed in a bar in Southern California. More people injured in all these shootings.
And these are just the shootings that have been the biggest news stories. A visit to the online Gun Violence Archive reveals more than two dozen other shootings across the United States in which multiple victims were injured or killed in just the past month.
Certainly, there are issues other than guns that need to be addressed to try to stop shootings. Our country must improve access to and funding for mental health care. We have to address the poverty, crime and hopelessness in cities where gun violence is too common. And we must combat the anti-Semitism, misogynistic vitriol and other hate that motivated some of the recent gunmen.
But it's the combination of these kinds of factors and easy access to guns that makes the United States different than other counties. It's no coincidence that we have some of the weakest gun laws in the world and a far higher gun homicide than every other developed nation.
For example, the United States has nearly six times the gun homicide rate of Canada. The Canadians also have a system of gun regulations "that looks like a stricter version of the U.S. — so some sort of firearm ownership is still a possibility, but not something that's done very easily," as a Vox article put it.
Canada requires a license to own a gun and ammunition. The licenses require stringent background checks and must be renewed every five years. Buyers need to pass safety tests. Guns are required by law to be safely stored. More dangerous types of guns face much harsher restrictions on their ownership, purchase and storage.
Yet here in the United States, we have a background check system riddled with loopholes and more firearms than people.
Closing loopholes by requiring universal background checks and a more rigorous system for performing checks would be a modest start to improving things. Laws must also be consistent across states to ensure these checks keeps guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and others who may be prone to violence. We believe people should be able to own guns, but we also believe it can be done more safely.
These are just a few of the modest measures that should be taken, but far more must be done. With the midterm elections over and new members coming into Congress, it's time to again demand that lawmakers take meaningful action to prevent gun violence. We're all to blame if we let things continue like this.
REPRINTED FROM THE PANAMA CITY NEWS HERALD