Reasonable gun safety measures keep us safe

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These continuing massacres at schools, churches, entertainment venues and elsewhere must end — all students should be able to pursue an education without fearing that they could become additional victims.

As a lifelong Texan, I grew up around guns and hunting. But a military style assault rifle is not for hunting, it is for killing other people. And tragically that has been the instrument of death in Parkland, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas and elsewhere. We need to restore the ban on these weapons of war that once existed.

The Parkland, Florida, massacre marks the 468th mass shooting since the beginning of 2017. In the past 5 months, three of the 10 deadliest shootings in U.S. history have occurred, including nearby at the church in Sutherland Springs. Time and again, short moments of silence in Congress are followed by long months of Republican inaction. Enough.

We all pray for those that have lost loved ones, but we need more than the regular response of “thoughts and prayers.” These precious lives are being ignored by this Republican-controlled Congress. While I personally have never taken a dime from the National Rifle Association, too many officials are indebted to them — the NRA seems to control the White House, Congress and Texas Legislature lock, stock and barrel.

Some lawmakers want to give up and, as a last resort, arm teachers. This is simply a distraction and a way for these elected officials to shirk their own responsibility to prevent gun violence. Teachers should not be focused on shooting people, they should be focused on teaching our young people to help fulfill their God-given potential.

As the students from Parkland are urging, we need comprehensive background checks so that those with a history of violence or criminal wrongdoing cannot purchase a gun. Implementing reasonable gun safety measures does not violate the Second Amendment. Working with local organizations such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and concerned citizens, I am committed to making our communities safer.

Students inspire by standing up, organizing action and recognizing those who prioritize safety. I stand with fellow Longhorns and local allies who are staging peaceful protests. Seeing resilient UT students come together and lead the March for Our Lives event this past weekend at the State Capitol gives me hope for our country’s future.

Some businesses are also leading. Dick’s Sporting Goods committed to stop selling assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines and to require firearms purchasers to be at least 21 years old. Academy Sports and Outdoors and other stores should follow this example.

No one should have to worry about the safety of their loved ones. While there is no panacea for gun violence, we can take positive steps to prevent more tragedies, more pain and more grief.  Let’s work together to enact reasonable reforms so no one else suffers. And if this Congress will not act, we must get one that will.

I want to hear from you. Please keep me advised of any federal matters on which I may be of assistance at Lloyd.Doggett@mail.house.gov.

Doggett represents Texas's 35th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served as UT's student body president in 1967.