Richard Emery: If now is not time to end gun violence, when?

We have solutions that can limit gun violence. Now we need to demand action from our leaders.

Richard Emery

Richard Emery

By Richard Emery / Herald Forum


We cannot endure another pious round of thoughts and prayers; of “now is not the time”; “if only the teachers had been armed”; and all the other platitudes that no doubt will be forthcoming.

Children have been murdered again! The massacre in Buffalo was particularly vile, but this, this drives me to anguish, despair and rage. As it should everyone.

Children just beginning their lives. Innocence destroyed. Unforgettable trauma. Again!

Children who had every expectation their community would provide safety and security

Children who died because of the negligence of adults. Again!

To those who think thoughts and prayers are enough: It will never assuage the loss and grief of the families of the children whose lives are gone. And it will never assuage the terror and trauma of those who witnessed and survived, who were running and hiding for their lives and will remember and suffer from this tragedy for ever; who will be forced to re-live this terror every time there is another.

To those who wish that “good guys with guns” would have stopped this, or any of the other carnage that we have had to endure, it’s a fantasy. Hardly anyone one shoots a weapon like the good guys in movies or TV. Even those with extensive training find it difficult to keep their calm and aim in such circumstances. Finally, just imagine the challenge of law enforcement having to immediately decide who is the “good guy” and who is not.

To those who will say, “Now is not the time to change anything” (hoping, apparently, that this event will also fade fast enough that nothing will in fact change): You must know when it will be the time in order to tell us it is not now.

We need to know now when it will be time for action, for change, for rules and laws like a waiting period between a gun purchase and possession; for training in gun safety; for universal background checks for every gun purchase, everywhere (and for the seller to be accountable for the future actions of the buyer if a backgrounds check is not done); for nationally linked data bases of those who have been designated as being ineligible to own a gun; for prohibiting those under 21 to purchase any gun unless they are a member of the military or law enforcement or accompanied by a parent; banning the sale of high-capacity magazines (as Washington state just did); banning the sale and transport of rapid fire weapons; and tougher laws on “ghost” guns.

Lastly, yes there is a mental health crisis. Those who do these horrific and despicable murders are often, clearly, mentally ill and need intervention and treatment.

I’m willing to pay more in taxes to fund facilities and staffing and changes in involuntary commitment rules so those in need can get the help they need.

It is what a responsible, compassionate community should be, must be, doing. The primary responsibility of a government, at any level, is public safety.

Are you willing to make your community safer?

None of these comes anywhere close to “They are coming to take your guns away.” But, I can wish they all went away.

I was in elementary school in the 1950s, high school in the early ’60s, college in the late ’60s. None of this was happening then. There were not active shooter drills, in schools, day cares, offices. There were no mass shootings at schools, parks, grocery stores, malls, movie theaters, Walmarts, concerts, churches, synagogues or anywhere else.

There were also far fewer guns.

Draw your own conclusions.

Richard Emery lives in Mukilteo and is a member of the Mukilteo City Council.

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