EDITORIAL: We must do something

With apologies to Albert Einstein, there’s a new definition of insanity in America: Sending thoughts and prayers over and over again, and expecting the mass shootings to stop.

This weekend’s bloodshed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, reminded us once again of how broken things are in America when it comes to gun violence — and how our government has utterly failed to stop the carnage.

Following the latest massacres to occur in America this past weekend, there have been more than 250 mass shootings in the United States so far this year. No other nation in the world had a number of mass shootings exceeding single digits.

What are we going to do to stop this? The obvious answer is greater gun control — reviving the assault weapons ban, expanding background checks, and preventing convicted felons from owning guns, among other ideas.

No American should own an AR-15, an AK-47 or any other high-capacity assault rifle built specifically for the military to wage war. These weapons aren’t made for sport; they’re made for death, in high volumes, in short periods of time. No American should need one; no American should want one.

Calls for gun control have been made over and over and over again, following one mass shooting after another, in this country over the last decade. It should be a bipartisan effort, but it is not, because one party utterly refuses to do anything about it other than offer “thoughts and prayers” after each tragedy.

Members of the Republican Party offer every other excuse in the world for the bloodshed, and for making no concerted effort to increase public safety.

It’s violent video games, they say. It’s mental health, they say. It’s broken homes, they say. It’s the lack of prayer in public schools, some ignorantly claim.

Other nations have violent video games, mental health issues, dysfunctional families and public prayer bans — yet they do not have the level of gun violence we experience in our country. What they do have are strict gun laws that preserve public safety without infringing upon one’s right to defend themselves.

Shouldn’t we, as Americans, deserve and demand the same? Seems like an obvious yes to us.

The G.O.P. has run out of excuses and time — and so has President Trump, whose own hostile words toward immigrants were echoed in a manifesto left by the gunman responsible for the El Paso massacre.

Since he began his presidential campaign in 2015, Trump has used his bully pulpit to say horrific, blatantly bigoted things about people he doesn’t like or whom he doesn’t agree with politically.

One study after another has found that the number of hate crimes in America has soared since Trump took office. That’s because white nationalists feel empowered by the president’s own rhetoric; they feel it justifies their own hatred, and spurs them to lash out on their own.

Radicalized white nationalist terrorists are getting their hands on weapons of war and turning them against ordinary people just living their lives. The president, of course, didn’t pause to contemplate his contribution to this. He blamed everything and everyone else except himself, and guns.

One prominent Republican in Queens, Councilmember Eric Ulrich, shamefully dismissed that notion and played the “both sides” card by wondering why the press didn’t blame, in his eyes, Presidents Clinton and Obama for mass shootings during their administrations.

We don’t recall President Clinton calling Mexicans “rapists and drug addicts,” the way Trump did back in 2015 at his campaign announcement; nor do we recall President Obama describing the arrival of migrants on the southern border as an “invasion” of America, as Trump has repeatedly said this year.

Republicans may try to wash the president’s hands of responsibility here, but the majority of us know better. Sure, Trump didn’t pull the trigger, but his past words undoubtedly inspired the gunman to do so. This country has a gun problem and a white nationalist problem — and Republicans must start working with Democrats to strengthen our gun laws and reject white nationalism.

However, showing the problem is even more widespread, the Dayton shooter was an antifa activist and avowed socialist.

In short, every politician of every party has a responsibility to solve these problems. It’s time that they finally do something to protect us all, rather than just talking about it or ignoring it altogether.

Call President Trump, call Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and call the New York State Republican Party and demand that they support gun control and the fight against white nationalism.

President Donald Trump: 202-456-1414

Senator Mitch McConnell: 202-224-2541

NYS Republican Party: 518-462-2601

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