Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
If you can say that with a straight face and believe it in your heart after the recent horror in Orlando, then you’re probably not going to like this.
And if you could say those words with full conviction directly to the family members and friends of the 49 people massacred at a gay nightclub in Florida, then I’m not sure you have what it takes to be a “law-abiding gun owner.”
The slaughter of innocent people in the Sunshine State is just the latest in a string of such violence, and yet little, if anything, has been done to try to stem it. We don’t know the exact motivation of the killer, and we might never know. But a person who was once on a terrorist watch list and interviewed by the FBI was able to get his hands on a very powerful gun, reportedly pretty easily.
Sean Haugh, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in North Carolina, responded with a well-written statement in which he called for people to “get the murder out of your heart.” To put an end to gun violence, he wrote, the first step is to end divisive politics.
“When you vilify any group of people at all, you are contributing directly to the culture of mass murder,” Haugh wrote. “I say this to everyone all across the political spectrum: We must give up our culture wars right now. That is the only way out of this mess.”
His words come as the National Rifle Association seeks to make it easier to get guns in North Carolina and elsewhere.
Maybe a 180-degree turn is more appropriate in these times.
In Raleigh, bills are often named for people who die in preventable tragedies, and those bills often become law. For example, a measure moving through the General Assembly right now would increase penalties for impaired boaters who seriously injure or kill innocent people on the water. It’s named after Sheyenne Marshall, a 17-year-old run over and killed by an impaired boater last year on Lake Norman. It’s a perfectly legitimate piece of legislation that’s getting support from both sides of the aisle, as it should.
With that in mind, let’s do something now about the all-too-common massacres that are just about always perpetrated with guns, whether that’s banning weapons capable of mowing down dozens of people in seconds or making it much more difficult for people with demonstrated mental instability and possible connections to terrorists to access such vicious weapons.
Let’s debate a bill listing each and every one of the Orlando victims in its title. (Yes, that would be a very long title.) Let’s bring the family members to North Carolina to speak about what they’re going through.
Let’s let our legislators see and hear firsthand the devastation caused by AR-15 rifles. Let’s consider a bill aimed at preventing further tragedies with Orlando victims in attendance at the Legislative Building. Let’s give them a standing ovation from the House and Senate floors, as our lawmakers often do with bills named after victims.
Let’s push our legislators and push them and push them and push them some more to address the mayhem. Let’s make them press yes or no on their voting buttons.
Let’s see where they stand.
Patrick Gannon is the editor of The Insider State Government News Service in Raleigh. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.