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Let's Stand with Mother Emanuel and Against the Violence of Guns

As President Obama has now said, "At some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other developed countries."

Worshippers embrace following a group prayer across the street from the scene of a shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, June 17, 2015. (Photo: David Goldman/AP)

Once again, we are as a nation horrified by another mass shooting, this time an apparent hate crime that took place June 17 at "Mother Emanuel" -- Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the nation's oldest black churches -- in Charleston, South Carolina, and claimed the lives of nine people during an evening of peaceful prayer.

The facts of this tragedy remain under investigation, and there is still a lot that we don't know. But what we do know is that every day, 88 Americans are killed in shootings. Most of these tragedies are preventable through common-sense solutions that keep guns out of the wrong hands, measures that the majority of the American public wants.

Every time there is a mass shooting, our nation grieves and we ask, "Why?" President Obama said, "I've had to make statements like this too many times"; and according to CBS's Mark Knoller, this marks at least the 14th time Obama has made a statement following a mass shooting. The president also said that this is an example of innocent people being killed because someone "who wanted to inflict harm" had "no trouble getting their hands on a gun."


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When we talk about solutions, we don't spend enough time talking about the real things we can do to keep guns out of the hands of the people who commit these crimes. Solutions that almost everybody supports, like:

  • Expanding Brady background checks to all gun sales, so that felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill can't walk into gun shows or go online and buy guns with no questions asked.
  • Shutting down the 5 percent of "bad apple" gun dealers that knowingly do business with gun traffickers and straw purchasers and supply almost all crime guns in our nation.
  • Educating parents about the risks of unsafe access to guns in the home, knowing that nine kids are shot unintentionally in America every day and in more than two-thirds of school shootings, the gun comes from the home of the attacker or a relative -- including the shooting at Sandy Hook.

No, there is not a single magic solution that will keep every gun out of the hands of every person intent on doing harm -- but we can do a lot better than we are doing now. As the president said, "At some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other developed countries."

Dan Gross

Dan Gross is President of the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

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