Gun violence an ongoing threat to America’s safety

Last Thursday, a 19-year-old gunman fatally shot eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis where he once worked. Indianapolis police have identified the shooter as Brandon Scott Hole. Hole used two legally purchased assault rifles in the senseless attack that killed eight people and left several others severely wounded. Hole took his own life after shooting others.
Four members of Indianapolis’ Sikh community were among those who died in the attack.
President Joe Biden called the recent rash of mass shootings a “national embarrassment” last Friday. The president ordered that flags at the White House be flown at half-staff to honor the innocent fallen.
“It’s not only these mass shootings that are occurring. Every single day, every single day, there’s a mass shooting in the United States, if you count all those who are killed out on the streets of our cities and our rural areas,” said President Biden.
President Biden noted that last week’s carnage in Indianapolis took place on the 14th anniversary of the murder of 32 people at Virginia Tech University. He added that gun violence “pierces the very soul of our nation” and characterized such shootings as an “epidemic” in the United States.
The president’s remarks came as the Texas House of Representatives is meeting in Austin. State Rep. James E. White (R-Hillster) sponsored a “constitutional carry” bill that is likely to become law. Rep. White, with the strong support of Gov. Greg Abbott, sponsored legislation that would allow Texans to carry firearms in public without a permit. Gov. Abbott enthusiastically backed White’s legislation, House Bill 1927, which was approved last week by the Texas House by a vote of 87 to 58.
Both Rep. White and Gov. Abbott have not heeded the painful lessons garnered from the Indianapolis shootings. In 2020, Indianapolis police confiscated a gun from Hole and took him into custody after he threatened suicide. An Indiana police report last year details that Hole, who was then 18 years old, had “suicidal tendencies.” Police confiscated a shotgun from Hole and characterized him as a “dangerous person.”
It is tragic that Gov. Abbott has not acquired insight into the immediate dangers of gun violence from recent incidents of gun violence in Texas.
At this writing, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has said that the 18 votes necessary for the Texas Senate to approve H.B. 1927 do not exist. Apparently, 17 Texas state senators favor the law. However, State Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) may not favor the law, which has the practical effect of blocking the legislation from becoming law.
At what point do the lives of victims of unchecked gun violence rise to a level that will result in Texas’ highest elected officials responding by exercising leadership in the public’s right to be secure from wanton violence? Is a law that would allow all Texans to carry firearms in public really in the public’s interest?
America is a nation with more guns than people. The Associated Press recently reported that there are more than 400 million guns in a country of approximately 330 million people. The United States is, by far, the leader in gun deaths amongst the world’s developed nations. Every day more than 300 people are shot. More than 100 Americans die each day from gun violence.
We need to adopt more rigorous background checks and eliminate ghost gun kits that transform random gun parts into fully functioning weapons without any regulation or oversight whatsoever. Texas law currently provides that individuals with state-authorized permits may openly carry handguns. But troubling facts remain. At present, at-risk individuals may successfully purchase firearms that are used to kill and maim innocent victims.
Texans have enjoyed hunting and fishing dating back to the state’s earliest days.
It is no understatement to say that our state’s founders could not have imagined assault rifles available today that can discharge thousands of rounds in a minute. While high-speed guns may be of value to our highly-trained armed forces, the only utility they have outside of a war zone is to wreak havoc on civilized society. While they likely have utility for our highly-trained armed forces, their high-volume sales are a very real threat to the public and law enforcement.
None of us is immune from the risks of crazed gun violence. Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords of Arizona, an active member of Tucson’s Jewish community, was senselessly shot by Jared Lee Loughner as she met with constituents in the parking lot of a local grocery store. After more than 10 years of intensive rehabilitation, Giffords’ battle for recovery is a story of heroic courage.
Giffords and her husband, U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), have vigorously campaigned for more effective gun laws.
“The sad thing is, you know, we can have it both ways. We can have a strong Second Amendment and allow responsible people to buy and own firearms and, at the same time, we can address this issue of criminals (and dangerous people) getting guns,” Kelly told Minnesota Public Radio in a 2017 interview.
A version of this editorial appeared in the April 22, 2021, issue of the Jewish Herald-Voice in Houston. Reprinted with permission.

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