Over this past week our country has experienced multiple, unimaginable tragedies using weapons of war. There are almost no words to express the profound impact that these assaults have on our people, our values and our way of life. We should be honest — these are terrorist acts of war and we need a national response.
First, we have got to remove weapons of war from the hands of these extremists. In Dayton, reports are that the shooter was able to kill or wound over 30 people in a minute. Fortunately, the police were almost immediately on the scene and through effective action were able to prevent an even greater tragedy.
Given the epidemic of gun violence in our country, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell must immediately call the Senate back into session so that we can pass gun safety legislation. The time is long overdue for Congress to listen to the American people and not be intimidated by the NRA.
There are estimated to be between 5 and 10 million assault weapons on America’s streets. Shockingly, that is more than the United States military has. The function of an assault weapon is to kill human beings as quickly as possible.
We need to ban the manufacture, sale and transfer of these weapons of war. Period.
We have got to implement a buyback program to get these weapons off the streets.
And we have got to regulate assault weapons in the same way that we currently regulate fully automatic weapons — a system that essentially makes them unlawful to own.
We must do what the American people overwhelmingly want, and that means passing common sense gun safety legislation which expands background checks to every sale or transfer of any firearm, allows the amount of time necessary for authorities to conduct a full background check and cracks down on straw man purchasers and other gun runners.
Second, we have got to come together as a nation and combat the rise of violent white supremacist extremism. That means redirecting federal resources to address this threat to our national security.
Incredibly, the Trump administration has spent limited federal law enforcement dollars caging immigrant children while cutting funding from initiatives designed to fight the growing influence of white nationalist propaganda and violence. That has got to change.
I am personally all too familiar with the barbarity that comes from hateful ideology. Most of my own father’s family was brutally murdered at the hands of Hitler’s white supremacist regime. That regime came to power on a wave of violence and hatred against racial and religious minorities. We cannot allow that cancer to grow here.
Our First Amendment allows anyone to hold any view they want — even hateful and repugnant ones. But it does not permit carrying out acts of treason against our country. And that’s what these attacks are.
Nor does it or should it shield the online platforms from responsibility where the owners knowingly allow these violent extremists to plot and plan attacks on our people.
Finally, we need leadership in this country that is unequivocal in condemning violence and hatred. Instead, we have a president who actively demonizes racial and religious minorities, who coddles Nazis and Klansmen, and who wields white supremacy as a political weapon. Racism, religious bigotry, homophobia and xenophobia are not new. They have been with us since the founding of the country. But having a modern American president so actively promote hatred is new and must not be accepted.
On a personal level, seeing an American president describe people marching under a swastika as “good people” fills me with anger and disgust. But that anger has to be channeled into nonviolent political action.
We need a president — the person in the most trusted position in our government — to use that bully pulpit to appeal to the best in our nature, not instigate hatred and division.
That is our challenge, and that is our moral obligation to our children and our grandchildren.