According to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that keeps track of gun violence in the U.S., at least 607 mass shootings (four people or more shot) occurred in 2022 as of Thanksgiving, making this likely the second worst year on record, last year being the worst, an average of almost two mass shootings per day.

What’s being done about it? At the federal level, almost nothing, thanks to the Republican Party’s longstanding status as a wholly bought-off subsidiary of the National Rifle Association.

Thanks to the public outcry following the Highland Park mass shooting at this year’s July 4th parade, a bill has been introduced in the Illinois legislature to ban assault weapons. One of our local state reps, La Shawn Ford, is a sponsor. HB5855 also outlaws high-capacity ammunition magazines, raises the eligible age for a FOID card to 21, and allows petitioners to request a Firearms Restraining Order for a term of one-year (from the current six months).   

We need to get behind this bill.

The carnage has intensified in the 10 years since 20 first-graders and six staff members were massacred, using an assault weapon with high-capacity magazines, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. We mark that awful anniversary next Wednesday.

A similar massacre took the lives of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas this past May, reinforcing how little has changed in 10 years.

As a marker, those 20 Sandy Hook first-graders who died on Dec. 14, 2012 would be juniors in high school now, making plans to attend college. When we mark the 10th anniversary of the Uvalde massacre on May 24, 2032, will anything have changed?

I wrote a column in 2012 that ran two days before the Newtown murders titled, “Why the NRA should support gun control.” Here’s some of what I said:

Easy access to guns leads to mass murder. The incidents are piling up with maddening frequency. The number of casualties will only increase. The NRA’s ability to intimidate a cowardly Congress does not mean they’re winning the argument. It only means they enjoy a short-term advantage. …

The rising body count will be accompanied by a rising tide of public animosity toward both the NRA and their congressional lapdogs.

Some in the pro-gun movement characterize the right to own firearms as “a priori,” i.e. divinely granted, an inalienable right, essential to our very humanity. Which is, of course, nonsense.

The right to free speech is inalienable because without free speech, our humanity would be diminished. … Guns, on the other hand, are tools. They are not essential to who we are as human beings. And the right to keep and bear arms is anything but inalienable. Public outrage against the mass mayhem caused by careless, easy access to guns will inevitably sweep away the Second Amendment.

Therefore, if gun supporters want to preserve their right to bear arms, they need to join forces with those of us who favor effective gun regulation. Instead, they oppose any and all measures to restrict or delay access to gun ownership because their greatest fear is that government will take away their firearms, and they see regulation as the first step toward that end. Ironically, their efforts to block regulation bring that day closer. …

There is no moral legitimacy to the NRA position. … All they have is a vaguely worded, historically obsolete constitutional amendment and the lack of political will to overturn it. Time is not on their side. It may not happen in our lifetime, but it will happen — unless the NRA changes course.

Ten years later, the NRA continues to prize the rights of mass murderers over our children’s right to life.

By the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook mass murder, I naively figured, certainly something would have changed, right? Here’s a portion of my December 2013 column titled, “Newtown, newcountry?”

I’m incredulous that 12 months after the latest “massacre of the innocents,” we’ve done nothing as a nation to reduce the easy availability of guns by criminals and the dangerously mentally ill. … And I’m deeply disappointed that people who should know better (gun owners) seem to care so much more about their individual rights than the safety of our children.

I’m also shocked by their indifference toward the rising number of mass-shooting incidents nationwide. If they have feelings about it, they certainly aren’t showing them. It’s as if they’re deathly afraid that acknowledging Newtown will make them go “soft” and threaten the defense of their gun rights, which are more precious to them than anything else. …

We owe it to those first-graders at Sandy Hook, and to all the kids who will be bloodied in 2014 and beyond, [to pass common-sense gun legislation]. I owe it to my grandsons to try.

Newtown, newcountry? It’s time for progress.

But there has been no progress. It has only gotten worse.

Support House Bill 5855 as it makes its way through the legislature. Maybe Illinois can set an example for the rest of the nation by banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, whose only purpose is mass murder.

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