It’s time to act on active shooter situations

Published Nov 13, 2013 at 4:32 am (Updated Nov 7, 2013 at 2:44 pm)

When the Columbine High School massacre occurred on April 20, 1999, it was a tragic, yet isolated incident. Unfortunately, in today’s world, active shooter situations take place on an almost regular basis. The most recent shootings at LAX and the New Jersey Garden State Plaza mall – taking place just three days apart – confirm the regularity of these events.

“CBS This Morning” recently reported that from the year 2000 to 2013, there have been 111 active shooters in the United States. In the past four years, the number of people shot and killed during these situations has increased a staggering 150 percent. In 2012 alone, 35 active shooter incidents took place, Sandy Hook Elementary School being by far the most horrific. In 74 percent of those situations, shooters entered through the main entrance and 51 percent of the attacks occurred in the workplace.

The question posed during the CBS report was why? Are these shooters aiming for media attention, which they surely will achieve? Is it because the ban on assault rifles was lifted in 2004, thus making these terrible, unnecessary weapons easier to attain? Is it the defunding of mental health programs, leaving mentally ill people without the medication they so direly need?

Though the news segment did not say, we think the answers to the above questions are yes, yes and yes.

But what will it take for things to change? After Sandy Hook, President Obama tried – and failed – to pass legislation calling for expanded background checks and reinstating the ban on assault rifles, among other measures.

The Affordable Care Act has expanded the coverage and treatment options available to those suffering with mental illness, yet, members of the government – as well as so many U.S. citizens – are so divided on the Obamacare issue, that it was a catalyst for last month’s government shutdown.

What’s been said on these pages before bears repeating – we need to come together and fix what’s broken. Members of the government need to see beyond political party lines and protect the American people. They need to sever ties with members of the NRA and get out of their pockets, put restrictions and limitations on assault weapons, and seriously reconsider implementing those expanded background checks.

We know this is asking a lot, but these changes need to happen soon.

In the same segment, senior correspondent John Miller spoke of a conversation with a member of the British police (firearms are very tightly controlled by law in the United Kingdom). “We said, ‘How many people in your city?’ He said, ‘Six million.’ We said, ‘How many murders by gunfire did you have last year?’ He said, ‘Six.’”

It’s not a world-wide epidemic, it’s a United States plague. And we need a cure before more innocent lives are lost.

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