The Time for Gun Control Laws Is Now
Your Take: There is absolutely no way around it this time. Legislative action on firearms has to happen.
The suicides of two NFL players -- Jovan Belcher (who also killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins) and Junior Seau -- have encouraged us to have family-room conversations about the need to address not only gun control and gun violence but also mental illness, which may be largely responsible for these tragedies. However, the deaths of so many others -- particularly those of young black people in Chicago -- have gone unnoticed. That crisis must also be addressed.
Sure, the road toward reform of the seemingly sacred right to bear arms is difficult, and the complexities of finding a solution lead us to perpetual avoidance. Nevertheless, reasonable people understand that America must address this nightmare before another person loses a child, parent, sibling or other loved one. We have a gun control crisis compounded by severe mental-health issues, which are literally stealing the lives and futures of the assailants and their victims.
While disaster should not always drive legislation and policymaking, there certainly comes a time when disaster must enable or encourage Americans to take a stand and resoundingly say, "No more!" And after we take a stand, we must take action. It is time for America to have a very serious review of our gun control laws and gain a greater understanding about the challenges surrounding mental illness.
Many of our nation's legislators have a deep, abiding commitment to effect change through the legislative process. In so many instances, their commitment comes from their passions, their pain or a combination of both. I think all of America wishes that we had addressed the issues enabling yet another disaster, a massacre, before it happened. However, we did not. Let's not have another "Woulda, coulda, shoulda" moment, because the cost of another life is far too high a price to pay.
As President Obama said last Sunday night: "We're not doing enough, and we will have to change." Choking up and shedding tears while reading our president's remarks and viewing the pictures of the fallen children, I pray that America will be moved to address the nation's societal ills far before disaster strikes yet again.
Angela Rye, an attorney and political strategist, is a co-founder of IMPACT and the executive director and general counsel for the Congressional Black Caucus. She has been featured in The Root 100, MSNBC's "BLTWY Power List: 35 Under 35 Who Changed DC" and the Washington Post's "Who Runs Gov." Follow her on Twitter.
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