Justin Thulin: Don’t vote for gun-control opponents 2023

Two weeks ago, on March 27, 2023, Nashville, Tennessee, had another school shooting. Legislators sent “thoughts and prayers” again after the incident.

Most Republican politicians appear unaware of the definition of insanity: repeating the same thing and expecting different results.

Republican lawmakers: Guns are an issue. Guns killed almost 40,000 Americans in 2022. It rivals traffic fatalities. Guns killed 4,357 children under 19 in 2020.

No more.

We need stricter gun laws, but this piece will focus on assault weapon bans.

Gun supporters and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s claim that we can’t “legislate against evil” is absurd. Gun ownership and violence are unique to the US. School shootings are infrequent in gun-restricted countries.

From 2009 to 2018, 288 US school shootings occurred. Canada, France, Germany, and the UK had two, two, one, and nil school shootings during the same period. Only private gun ownership distinguishes us from them.

New Zealand, Australia, England, and Norway have wisely banned semi-automatic assault guns and high-capacity magazines in response to mass killings during the previous 25 years. In March 2019, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden banned assault rifles after a white supremacist killed 51 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch. The new law gave gun owners six months to sell their guns to the authorities.

America’s gun problem is well known. Just politicians.

In 1994, Congress “legislated against evil” by banning assault rifles. The 1994–2004 prohibition reduced mass shooting deaths by 70% compared to 1981–2017. Another analysis found that the 10-year moratorium may have avoided 11 mass shootings and 30 more if it had been extended.

These investigations confirm the obvious: Preventing access to military-grade rapid-fire assault weapons with enormous magazines that can fire 100 rounds per minute reduces mass shootings. Easy, right?

70% of Americans support reasonable gun regulation and an assault weapons ban. Our state and federal officials fail to address this issue.

Our leaders should protect us from preventable risks. Regrettably, Republicans—overwhelmingly Republicans—appear to care more about gun lobbyist blood money than schoolchildren’s lives. Not just my view.

“The gun lobby has established a grip on some of our elected leaders so that they are more beholden to gun manufacturers than to their constituents,” experts say, explaining why the U.S. has lagged behind other nations. Given that the National Rifle Association spends $3 million on gun policy, that seems feasible.

Given this awful reality, our only alternative is to vent our outrage at these tragic and repulsive serial catastrophes by sending a resounding message that no politician, especially one protected by gerrymandered districts, can ignore: Either prohibit assault weapons and address our gun problem, or find another job.

Politicians use the 24-hour news cycle and the voting public’s short memory to avoid fixing this national disaster and humiliation. Remember the innocent children this time. We must force every Utah state representative, state senator, governor, US congressman, and US senator to answer this question on the record:

Will you support assault weapon bans? Yes or No?”

Our ethically bankrupt culture must change. Another school or public shooting will happen, maybe in Utah. It’s too late to protest outside the Utah Capitol as over 1,000 parents and students did outside the Tennessee Capitol. We must never finance or vote for a candidate who opposes assault weapon bans.

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