February 14, 2019 was the 1-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida. This Dominican Center posted a strong call for sensible and safe gun control and featured the song written by the survivors of the shooting committing themselves to end these tragedies. You can reread that post here.

Six weeks later, it was necessary to post another call to face the seriousness of the trauma that lingers and kills as two Marjorie Stoneman Douglas students who survived the shooting took their own lives. The trauma is deep and wide and lasting and must be addressed. You can reread that post here.

These posts deserve rereading, reflection, and resolve. They resonate powerfully again today following the two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio within 12 hours or so of each other August 3-4, 2019. And as I wrote that last sentence, a news bulletin crossed my screen about trauma units in Chicago being overwhelmed by the number of gunshot victims there this same weekend.

Gun violence is a national epidemic. In the 215 days of 2019, from January 1 to August 4, there have been 250 or more mass shootings. It is time for everyone across the country to demand strong action on gun control: universal background checks, registration of gun ownership, a national assault weapon ban, and more. Study the issue; contemplate the victims, the dead, the wounded, the traumatized, the grieving families; listen to your heart; and above all ACT.

Let me add two footnotes. First, the president and other Republicans responding to the shootings this weekend focused on the need to target and address mental illness. But as one medical consultant said in response, this is another cruel scapegoating of the mentally ill. While it is easy for good people to assume that anyone who would do such a horrendous thing must be mentally sick, there have been no serious diagnoses of mental illness among the mass shooters these many months and years of carnage.

Second, in his August 4th column for the Washington Post, E.J. Dionne warns against the dangerous calls for “balance” and “bipartisan solutions” that we are already hearing. He calls them

the alibis of timid souls so intent on sounding “balanced” that they turn their eyes from the truth.

What is that truth? When it comes to gun violence and the need to confront white nationalism, one side is right and one side is wrong.

This may seem a harsh political judgment, but his argument is strong. Take it into account as you study the issues and prepare to act.

 

James E. Hug, S.J.