On gun violence, hold elected officials accountable

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Growing up in a rural part of Florida, my brothers and I were able to protect our chickens with simply a single-shot .22 rifle. I guess we had better aim than those who say they need a weapon of war (the AR-15) to kill possums, raccoons, and other small animals.

I hear elected officials talk gibberish in trying to argue that the Second Amendment should guarantee the right to any style gun for any person. They deny the value of background checks and red flag laws. They think it’s reasonable to have age-restrictions for the sale of cigarettes and alcohol or the rental of a car — but not for the purchase of weapons of war so powerful their victims can only be identified through DNA testing.

As important as funding for mental health services is, many of these same politicians have cut funding for such health care. They also ignore the fact that persons around the world also experience mental illness, but we in the United States are largely unique in our gun violence.

According to a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, we in the United States join Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guatemala in accounting for more than half of the world’s deaths from firearms.

In 2020 alone, more than 45,000 Americans died from firearms — a 43% increase from 2010.

There have already been at least 246 mass shootings in the U.S. this year, including 27 in schools. For those excited about records, we are on track to break last year’s most violent year when we had 682 mass shootings.

Where is the common sense? Where is the common decency? Why can’t we be a civil society?

The courageous Ukrainian soldiers need weapons of war to defend their children and communities — not a person who kills our school children, those attending faith services, or elderly going grocery shopping.

I have to believe we are better than this — I pray we are — as recent polls suggest. Americans are showing overwhelming support for common sense gun laws. Isn’t it about time our elected officials show some leadership? Otherwise — to be crude — they will continue to have blood on their hands: the blood of the children of Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde and so many others. And if we don’t hold them accountable for their inaction, we too will have blood on our hands.

Dennis W. Streets is the retired executive director of the Chatham County Council on Aging.

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