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Editorial: Congress must act on gun reform

OCTOBER 5, 2017 – We are Americans. Many of us believe we can do anything.

But somehow, Americans have not been able to convince members of Congress to implement gun reform. Sunday night’s massacre in Las Vegas, where a lone gunman barricaded himself in a hotel room with dozens of firearms – including high-powered rifles capable of simulating rapid automatic gunfire – is the 273rd mass shooting in 2017, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. This massacre, which claimed 58 souls, wounded over 500 – and forever changed the lives of thousands of their loved ones – is the latest reminder that mass shootings are largely the work of home-grown Americans, and not organized foreign-based terrorists.

Mass shootings are a reflection of our culture, and society. These acts, by deeply troubled individuals, should spur lawmakers to take their jobs of protecting fellow Americans more seriously.

Five years ago, Americans were horrified when a young man burst into an elementary school in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and sprayed bullets into classrooms, killing 20 students and six teachers. At the time, President Obama promised gun reform, but since then over 100 bills have come before Congress, and each one has been rejected. And, just months after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot and nearly killed at a GOP baseball practice over the summer, he remains strongly opposed to gun control. On his website, Scalise has posted that he’s earned an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association. And President Trump, who praised Obama’s call for gun reform after Newtown, has walked backed his comments for stricter control over the years. According to opensecrets.org, Trump received $30 million in donations from the NRA during the 2016 presidential campaign. The NRA was pleased last February, when Trump signed a bill that rolled back an Obama regulation that had made it more difficult for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun.

The second amendment of the Constitution allows for “people to keep and bear arms.” These days, no one is calling for an end for Americans to own a gun. But these shootings are all too commonplace. We need to start a conversation about our society, and saving lives. We need to listen to one another, and we need Congress to grasp that American lives are more important than the gun lobby, and receiving campaign donations.

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