Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Baby Step

 Saturday, June 11. Hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets to March For Our Lives. From Washington D.C. to San Francisco, people gathered to let  their elected representatives know that they are tired of "thoughts and prayers." They wanted action. Action in the form of common sense legislation that would curb gun violence. 

They wanted to save lives. 

And who could have expected that the very next day a bipartisan group of senators announced that they had agreed, in principle, on gun safety legislation. In their statement, they assured us all that their bill would include "needed mental health resources, improves school safety and support for students, and helps ensure dangerous criminals and those who are adjudicated as mentally ill can't purchase weapons." This came fast on the heels of a bill pushed through the House of Representatives that would allow families, police and others to ask federal courts to order the removal of firearms from people at extreme risk of harming themselves or others. If those sound similar, that's no coincidence. This is the time to put up or shut up when it comes to gun control. And it makes sense that the House would be a little more direct about their attempts to create a "red-flag" law. The House is where you find more Democrats, less concerned with the support from the NRA. 

What's missing? A ban on assault weapons. Raising the age limit to be able to purchase those weapons. Banning the sale of high capacity magazines. Closing gun show loopholes. Universal background checks. Mandatory waiting periods. 

Why so timid? Well, maybe it's because those who oppose such measures are the ones with all the guns. Even though no one outside of Beto O'Rourke is saying out loud what so many of us are thinking. Yes, we would like to take the guns away. We would like to try and get through a month, a week, a day without dozens of people being killed. We would like to think that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is fundamentally more important than insuring unfettered access to killing machines. 

But it's a start, right? We can imagine this as the journey of a thousand miles, and this is a first step. A tiny, almost insignificant movement toward a goal, but movement nonetheless. If this announcement of possible legislation saves a life, it will be worthwhile. 

We're going to need a whole lot more of these baby steps to get to where we need to be. 

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