Elected officials must confront scourge of gun violence

Dec. 2 brought news of yet another gun massacre, this time in San Bernardino, Calif., only days after a gunman murdered two civilians and a police officer in a standoff in Colorado.

So far, 14 people have been killed in California, and while the details and motivations of the shooters are not yet clear, the reasons why such an awful attack was possible are all too obvious and familiar.

As news of the attack in California trickled in on Dec. 2, politicians and presidential candidates expressed their sorrow and sympathy with the families of the victims, offering prayers and good wishes.

But this meaningless expression of sympathy does nothing to comfort the families torn apart by this loss of life, nor do these empty gestures do anything to prevent the massacres we have grown so accustomed to. It’s time to offer more than prayers — it’s time to act. For too long, our leaders have cowered at the very notion of the most basic types of restrictions on the sale of firearms, and the results have been splashed across the front pages of newspapers and blanketed the airwaves for the entire world to witness.

Blacksburg. Tucson. Aurora. Newtown. Charleston. Chattanooga. Winston-Salem.

For years, gun violence has plagued this country’s college campuses, elementary schools, movie theatres and shopping centers. We have seen far too many of our fellow citizens gunned down while no federal policy regarding gun control or mental health treatment has changed. As citizens, and indeed as voters, we must hold our elected officials accountable for their criminal negligence and do everything in our power to demand they end this insanity.

The consequences of our political leaders doing nothing to address this problem are crystal clear: more death, more broken families and more gravestones.

As students preparing to go out into the world, we cannot allow ourselves to be desensitized to this horrific violence and the pathetic, cavalier response of our elected officials. We deserve more and we must demand action. There is so much we can do as a society to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. Tackling the issue of mental health instead of talking about it and stigmatizing it must be a priority, but so too must be sensible controls on the selling of guns.

There can never be true safety in a country where nonsensical gaps like the so-called “gun show loophole” allow anyone to purchase a deadly weapon without any kind of criminal background check or mental health evaluation; a country where it is easier for people to obtain handguns than a mortgage; a country where more than 2,000 people on the terrorist watch list have been able to legally obtain deadly weapons.

We hope that the passionate activists that grace this campus will lend their voices to the cause of public safety so that all Americans can carry on without the unending fear of avoidable violence and death. We don’t believe this should be a partisan issue, but rather a common cause that we can all rally behind as Americans — a collection of voices championing all human life and overcoming the evil hiding among us.