Unity needed for solutions

The tragedy of the two mass shootings in America this weekend are beyond words.

Yet, in the aftermath of yet another deadly rampage involving a young man with a gun, it is time for all of us to set politics and strongly held personal convictions aside in an effort to identify solutions.

In El Paso, Texas, a man apparently driven by racist hate shot 20 people to death. An online “manifesto” i.e. mindless, racist rant was posted to social media, purportedly by the gunman. In the diatribe the author outlines a white supremacist, vile, racist view of the world and migrants from Mexico and the political impact of their border crossings into America. Needless to say, no matter what one thinks of immigration policy at our southern border, the idea that one would go fatally shoot 20-plus people they’d never met shows a heart filled with hate, rage and cruelty driven by racism.

In Ohio the gunman’s motives at this point for killing nine outside an Ohio bar are, at least at this point, a little less defined. There was a media report Monday morning about a prior incident at high school for the gunman in which he’d established a hit list. Other than that a few speeding tickets in his background — no major criminal history.

It is of course not a surprise to anyone that these events keep happening. Just last week a young man with a weapon shot three people to death and injured 15 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Political movement to get something done from a legislative perspective have gone nowhere.

The magazine Mother Jones produced a comprehensive analysis of mass shootings. Some facts courtesy Mother Jones:

— Of the 143 guns possessed by the killers, more than three quarters were obtained legally. They included dozens of assault weapons and semi-automatic handguns with high-capacity magazines.

— More than half of the cases involved school or workplace shootings. A majority of the other shootings took place in locations including shopping malls, restaurants, and religious and government buildings. Almost every one of the killers was a white male with an average age of 35.

— A majority were mentally troubled—and many displayed signs of mental health problems before setting out to kill.

We don’t have the solutions more than anyone else does. However, there are some common sense steps to us which are obvious. We start the conversation with the recognition that, without question, almost all Americans who own guns are law abiding citizens. Any solution needs to have this as a starting point. With that said, it is obvious to us there needs to be enhanced background checks for firearms ownership. There needs to be so-called “red flag laws” in place that lead to the removal of firearms from people sending off warning signs of impending violence and hatred. There also has to be enhanced resources and a thoughtful strategy devoted to mental health in America. This is a facet of the discussion that often gets lost in the debate over gun control. Basically, if someone is mentally ill or a danger to others, there needs to be better mechanisms in place to help these people and at the same time protect society. Needless to say, anyone in this realm should have zero access to firearms. We also believe our culture and various forms of media glorifies mass shooters. This cannot be ignored. In addition, the prolific hate speech found online needs to be stamped out.

Slogans outlining one’s political perspective for and against guns are meaningless against the context of the senseless violence. Strongly held beliefs on both sides are going to have to be left at the door to find solutions.

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