To the editor:
The president has been quoted as saying, “It’s not going to be talk like it has been in the past” when it comes to fixing gun violence, but his comments ring hollow. Rather than fix anything, his administration has only worked to weaken our gun laws by making it easier for “fugitives from justice” and people with mental illness to obtain guns.
Literally, that is what this administration has done.
Now, in the face of the Parkland, Florida, tragedy, the president says he wants “fixes” to the problem, like expanded background checks and mental health screenings. Mr. President, actions speak louder than words. Republicans in the White House and in Congress have been unwilling to listen to reason, and that has led to years of pathetically weak gun laws — and a rising body count.
The GOP’s tactics, lifted right from the NRA’s playbook, have been amazingly effective at stymieing even the most basic, common sense gun safety regulations. Even now, after more children were gunned down in cold blood at school, the solutions being talked about to help curb gun violence are so woefully insufficient — or in the case of arming teachers, so insane — that I fear any real change will elude us once again.
There is no objection to people owning guns for safety or sport. But the Second Amendment wasn’t written with semi-automatic weapons in mind. They are weapons of war, and no fair-minded person would confuse regulating them with infringing on personal freedom.
So yes, we need expanded background checks and screenings.
But what we also need is to reinstitute the assault weapons ban that was allowed to expire in 2004, limit magazine capacities, extend wait times for gun purchases, allow the CDC to finally study gun violence, and remove politicians from office who are beholden to Wayne LaPierre and the NRA.
Without those things, we won’t be able to look those Parkland students in the eyes and say we’ve done all we can to make sure this never happens again.
Eliot L. Engel
The author is a congressman who represents New York’s 16th District.