The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin mourns the loss of scores of innocent lives in three recent mass shootings — in Gilroy, California; El Paso, Texas; and Dayton, Ohio — in one week.
Like so many others, we are frustrated that these tragedies continue and nothing is done to stop them.
There are many problems that contribute to the increasing incidence of these horrific crimes, including racism, nationalism, mental illness and hate. Yet there is no excuse to ignore the fact that they all involve high-capacity firearms that are all too easy to obtain. That is one reason why mass shootings are much more common in the United States than in other countries.
The League of Women Voters in 1990 proclaimed the proliferation of handguns and semiautomatic assault weapons “a major health and safety threat” in the United States. We adopted national positions supporting legislation to prevent gun violence, including a required waiting period for a background check, personal identity verification, and gun safety education prior to purchasing a firearm, along with annual license renewal for ownership.
It took only a few weeks for New Zealand to enact similar measures following a day of horrific mass shootings in mosques in Christchurch in which a white supremacist killed 50 people. We could respond as quickly and decisively here, and Wisconsin should be the leader.
People are demanding that politicians “do something” to stop gun violence. To be specific, state lawmakers should start by passing legislation to require universal background checks and limit the availability of high-capacity firearms. Surveys show time and time again that the people overwhelmingly support these reforms, and they want them passed before the next mass shooting — which could be in our state.
It’s time for everyone who supports sensible gun policies to put unceasing pressure on their representatives and senators in the state Legislature and Congress to pass these reforms. Let our voices drown out the gun lobby. In Wisconsin our governor has announced his support of background checks, so we could have at least that reform by the time our children go back to school. It is time to stop holding back, and demand action.
Then, next year, we must remember the need to reduce gun violence when we go to the polls.
Andrea Kaminski is the legislative coordinator for the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin is a nonpartisan political organization that advocates for informed and active participation in government. There are 20 local Leagues throughout Wisconsin. More information at lwvwi.org.
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