Maybe if there was more booing, America might have something to cheer about.
On Sunday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for president, was booed when he appeared at a vigil for three victims killed at what authorities said was a racially motivated shooting in Jacksonville, Florida. As governor, DeSantis in April signed a law allowing Floridians to carry concealed guns without a permit. Police said the gunman, an avowed racist who killed himself after the attack, used legally purchased guns.
Of course, those who gathered at the vigil in Jacksonville’s Grand Park neighborhood might not have been DeSantis supporters to begin with. What’s needed is a greater and greater cross-section of Americans voicing their opposition when politicians refuse to do anything about gun violence, or even make it worse by rolling back laws aimed at reducing bloodshed on the nation’s streets.
As of midday on Monday, there were more than 28,400 total gun deaths from all causes and more than 475 mass shootings across the nation this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. On Sunday, two people were killed and five were injured in a shooting at a Louisville, Kentucky, restaurant. On Saturday, eight people were shot during a parade in Boston. In Chicago, at least 22 were shot, one of them fatally, over the weekend. On Monday, officials said a shooter killed a faculty member at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
In Chicago, people also were trying to make sense of bullets that injured two people at a Friday evening White Sox game. Interim Police Supt. Fred Waller on Monday told reporters the theory that the bullets were fired from outside was “almost completely dispelled.” But the game still continued.
It almost felt like a metaphor for the inaction in Washington, where Republicans — in a far cry from the days when 46 House members of their party voted in 1994 for an assault weapons ban — have pretty much dug in against doing anything to slow the carnage. The White Sox did cancel a post-game concert.
As the nation awaits rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether guns can be denied to people with domestic violence restraining orders and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on whether to uphold Illinois’ ban on assault weapons, lawmakers in Illinois should try to close legal loopholes that put people at risk of gun violence.
Among them is a bill that may be raised in the Illinois Senate during the fall veto session that would deny guns to live-in partners convicted of domestic violence from having a gun. The bill, which expands on a law that now covers married couples, passed the House in the spring session.
Other measures that should be pushed in the Legislature next year include increasing penalties for not reporting lost or stolen guns. As it is, police complain the penalties are so light, many gun owners ignore them. But if those owners could lose their Illinois Firearm Owners Identification cards, they might take the law more seriously. Too often, when a crime gun is traced back to a person, the owner on record can say the gun was lost or stolen before the crime.
Other ideas include requiring the safe storage of guns to cut down on the number of times children shoot themselves or someone else.
The thread connecting each of those measures is the idea that if you own a gun, you should have to take responsibility for it.
People in other nations don’t understand why America permits so much gun violence, and some countries warn their citizens of the dangers of traveling here.
It doesn’t have to be that way. But little is likely to change if the majority of Americans don’t raise their voices.
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