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Inaction cannot be an option

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN | 6/27/2016, 11:52 a.m.
“This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a ...
Marian Wright Edelman

“This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.” – President Barack Obama, June 12

“We have to face the fact that meaningful gun control has to be a part of homeland security … We need to do something to minimize the opportunity for terrorists to get a gun in this country.” – U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, June 14

“I am proud to announce that after 14+ hours on the floor, we will have a vote on closing the terror gap & universal background checks.” – Tweet by Connecticut Sen. Christopher Murphy, June 16

(George Curry Media) – Inaction is not an option. In the wake of the worst mass shooting in American history, we can and must do everything in our power to end this scourge of terror, hate and bullets that fly across our land killing and maiming and breaking hearts and traumatizing communities with ever increasing frequency. How can inaction continue to be an option in the face of senselessness and intolerance fueled by guns? We must act to save our country’s soul and the lives of our people – all of our people.

The June 12 attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was both our nation’s worst act of terrorism since 9/11 and a hate crime. In that it was all too common: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are too likely targets of hate crimes in America. A large number of victims were gay people of color who were celebrating Latin Night in what many said they trusted and believed was a desperately needed “safe space.” But as we have seen over and over again, America is running out of safe spaces. Not Pulse. Not Bible study at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Not an office holiday party in San Bernardino, California. Not a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Not a dorm or university hall at Virginia Tech. And not a first grade classroom in Newtown, Connecticut, in a country where hate, bigotry, terrorism and mental illness collide with unfettered access to these weapons of war that leave us with no hiding spaces unless we do something now.

Connecticut Sen. Christopher Murphy couldn’t face the families of the children of Sandy Hook unless he did something. The Senate filibuster he led in the aftermath of the Orlando slaughter lasted for more than 14 hours before there was bipartisan agreement to allow a vote on two common sense amendments that would make all of us and our nation safer. Creating a “No Buy List” so that the more than 800,000 people on our terror watch lists cannot legally buy guns in America should be an easy decision for all of us. Closing the loopholes in existing background checks to reach sales at gun shows and through the internet to keep more criminals, would-be terrorists and others from buying guns should be another easy decision. The evidence is clear that expanded background checks work.