The media is all about the tea partiers whose numbers are small and whose angry people are in the news calling for the take-down of our own President and Democratic elected leaders. The media is paying close attention to the West Virginia mine disaster and the 29 people who lost their lives tragically in that mine. That is as it should be. When the shootings at Virginia Tech occurred, the media payed a lot of attention, as it should have. Three years later, however, where are we? Nothing has changed regarding national gun laws. In fact, things have progressed in the opposite direction. Legislation has made loaded guns in national Parks a reality. In some states, legislation is gaining traction to allow guns on college campuses. National legislation made it possible for passengers to voluntarily check their guns on Amtrak trains. But, as we know, there is not a security system in place on Amtrak to make sure those guns don't end up in the passenger compartments. Congress will likely consider legislation to allow the District of Columbia to, at long last, have a representative vote in the House of Representatives. But the NRA will not allow this to move forward unless an amendment is allowed to gut the gun laws in Washington D.C.
Where was the cry for extending Brady background checks to all sales of guns after Columbine and Virginia Tech? Colorado did pass a state law to require background checks on all gun sales at gun shows, much to their credit. After Virginia Tech, President Bush signed a law to require that states send the names of those who are adjudicated mentally ill to the National Instant Check System. Their names should now be on the list of prohibited purchasers. But this law did not provide funding for the states to carry this out. And it left it to the states to figure out who and how they would enact this. And, of course, it left out the requirement that these dangerous people be required to undergo background checks when purchasing from private, unlicensed sellers.
This is where we are 3 years after the tragedy at Virginia Tech. Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign, has written eloquently about why we need to make mass shootings a reason to pass common sense legislation. But more than that, individual acts of violence happen every day in our country and seem to be unnoticed or quickly forgotten. The President is not demanding that something be done as he did yesterday about the West Virginia mine disaster. People are saying "never again" should these mine disasters happen. No one wants miners to be put at risk. No one wants anyone put at unnecessary risk in their daily lives. But every day, we are putting citizens and police officers at risk by allowing those who should not be able to purchase guns to easily get them. These would be felons, domestic abusers and those who are dangerously mentally ill. Just today the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported yet another incident of a domestic dispute leading to a shooting of an officer and a likely death of a resident, though more details will come.
So today, some of us will remember. Some of us will demand action. If you are on Facebook you may see people like myself posting the name of a loved one or friend who has been shot to death. If you know of someone whose life has been taken, post that name on your Facebook status. Remember the victims. Go to the websites listed on my blog to get more information. Contribute financially and with your time. Nothing will change if we don't raise our voices to demand change.