Denielle Cazzolla

Cazzolla

Last week, I had every intention of writing this column on the NASCAR truck race I attended at Pocono the previous weekend.

Instead, after last weekend, I can’t stop thinking about hundreds of people killed or injured this year at the hands of sick individuals with guns.

And that is what they are — sick.

Anyone who knowingly shoots another person (except in self-defense) qualifies as sick.

According to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that keeps track of gun violence in the U.S., as of Monday there have been 255 mass shootings this year. It defines mass shootings as those of which four or more people are injured or killed.

More than 273 people died and 1,067 were injured, according to the group. In three of the shootings, at least 10 people died.

What can be done to fight the epidemic of violence?

Stop the violent video games, some say. They desensitize children to violence.

I don’t buy it. Before video games there was violent play (who didn’t have toy guns and play war or cowboys and Indians as a kid?). Besides, violent video games are found across the globe,.

Better mental health care is needed, others say.

Yes. We should have better mental health care in this nation. Perhaps if some people who are battling their own demons can deal with them before they come out in a violent manner can get treatment, it can prevent some of the violence. But, just like violent video games, mental issues are not limited to the United States. We far outpace other developed nations in the number of mass shootings per year. So those can’t be the reason.

Let’s focus on the war on poverty, say the voices from the inner cities.

Sure. A rising tide raises all boats, as the saying goes. A lower rate of violence often accompanies a rise out of poverty. But gun violence isn’t limited to the inner cities.

Get background check legislation passed, most Americans say.

Now we are getting somewhere. Unfortunately, Congress (especially NRA-backed Mitch McConnell) seems to be in no hurry to act. Let’s get background check legislation passed. A longer waiting period would also help.

Red flag laws could help, comes a cry from the corner.

Yes. If guns can be removed from someone who is threatening violence, why shouldn’t we do that?

Second Amendment advocates argue it’s just a way to take away people’s guns.

But if laws are written properly so there are safeguards against abuse, the law-abiding citizens the Second Amendment folks are so concerned about won’t have to worry.

We need more guns for the “good guys,” some gun advocates say. Shooters will be less likely to act if they know people may be “packing.”

Fighting guns with more guns is not the answer. A shooting last weekend left 22 people dead in Texas, which has some of the most liberal gun laws in the nation. It wasn’t a random good guy with a gun that apprehended him. It was police.

Maybe we should ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, someone else says.

There they go again, taking away our guns, the Second Amendment folks say.

If a particular gun isn’t needed for hunting or personal protection, maybe citizens don’t need to own them. Assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines only serve one purpose: To kill in large numbers. If we get more of these off the streets, it’s less likely the bad guys will have them as well. How many tommy guns do you see on the streets today?

I do support gun ownership. My husband hunts. My daughter is a good shot with her pellet gun. Do either of them need anything more than a hunting rifle, a shotgun or a pistol? No.

But the cry that keeps getting louder? The hateful rhetoric must stop!

I agree. Racism has always existed. Until 2016, it wasn’t a morally accepted stance. But since Donald Trump was elected, the rhetoric has gotten louder. Whether it is from his own lips (or fingers) or his tacit approval of racist statements, white nationalists have become emboldened.

If the person leading our country can’t come out and clearly state that this rhetoric is not acceptable, how are we as a nation supposed to fight it?

There clearly is not one answer to fight gun violence in America.

But perhaps if we can learn to accept people’s differences, be good neighbors and truly care about one another, we can take the first step.

Denielle Cazzolla is editor of The Daily Star. She can be reached at 607-441-7259 or dcazzolla@thedailystar.com. Follow her @DS_DenielleC on Twitter.

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