Actions Speak Louder Than Prayers

The actions following a mass shooting seem chillingly predictable now. Representatives and Senators take to Twitter to express their thoughts and prayers, President Obama holds a press conference saying that he can't keep holding press conferences after tragic events like this, the Democrats blame guns, the Republicans blame the mentally ill. A week later, the news media have moved on. Another mass shooting. Repeat.

If the root of these mass shootings is mentally ill people having access to guns, and using those guns to murder people, there are things that can be done. Republicans halting their endless campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act would be a good place to start. Whether Republicans like it or not, Obamacare will help the mentally ill. One part of Obamacare allows mentally ill people to access treatment, without being denied health insurance for a pre-exisiting health condition. The Medicaid expansion, and ability to find affordable insurance, allows people living with mental illness who are too sick to work to have access to quality healthcare. If Republicans want to help the mentally ill, the easiest thing for them to do is not continue their efforts to roll back Obamacare.

But that's not what the Republicans are doing. If anything, they want to make it harder for people to access healthcare. And it's telling that the only time Republican's talk about helping the mentally ill is after a mass shooting.

On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats have been proposing legislation to curb access to guns. Congresswoman Velazquez (D-NY) and Congressman Jeffries (D-NY) introduced a bill on October 26, 2015. The bill aims to reduce gun violence by creating a tracking system for firearms, and putting a tax on guns. This tax will be used to do what the Republicans keep talking about, and create a mental health trust fund, to provide care for mentally ill people

Another bill, proposed in January of 2015 by Representative Robin Kelly, (D-IL) would amend the Brady Act, which mandates that licensed sellers of guns conduct background checks, to prevent violent criminals from having firearms. This particular bill would make anyone convicted of a stalking offense unable to own a gun, among other violent offenses. Finally, Congressman Michael Honda (D-CA) introduced a bill in early November of 2015 to allocate money for researching gun violence, something that isn't being funded right now

None of these bills have made it farther than a committee in the House of Representatives, and not one has been voted on. This is because Republican leadership in the House and Senate refuses to bring bills like these up for a vote. Even if these bills were voted on, they would likely fail, as most Republicans refuse to do anything to limit gun ownership in this country.

Gun control may not eliminate mass shootings all together, but it's as good a place as any to start. The Democrats are trying to do something, with the laws they have proposed. The Republicans are blocking them at every turn, and proposing none of their own solutions. The longer they continue their inaction, the more blood they will have on their hands.

First Published: December 3, 2015