Tonight, America is reeling from another mass shooting.
And tonight, the same old and tired debate is once again filling the airwaves.
When my managers here at KING 5 came to me this morning and asked if I wanted to talk with you about this, I said “yes,” and I'm glad they asked.
I've been giving this topic a lot of thought since last summer when my son survived a mass shooting in Mukilteo that killed three of his friends and wounded a fourth.
Some of you might think I'm about to launch into a tirade on gun control. I'm not. All I want to do tonight is to ask you a question. And it's this: Are you okay with what happened in Las Vegas overnight? It sounds like a silly question, doesn't it? But I'm serious.
Some people in our country believe in pretty much an unrestricted right to bear arms of any kind. To them, this latest shooting is simply a byproduct of that freedom — carried out by an evil man. Don't blame the guns. If that's you, I understand where your belief comes from, and I get that a lot of factors play into this very complicated issue.
If you are not okay with what happened in Las Vegas, I hear you. Every time these shootings happen, the story is told the same way: "They simply went to a concert to have a good time."
In my son's case, "They simply wanted to get together one last time at the end of summer before going back to college when the gunman opened fire."
So what's my point? It's really quite simple. All of us, needs to do our part to solve the gun violence epidemic in America.
Let's start with the fact that seven out of 10 gun deaths are suicides. So if we really care about that statistic, we should lobby in Olympia for more state spending for mental health programs. Until recently, Washington was nearly 50th in the nation for spending on mental healthcare.
A point not lost on an angry Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich after the recent shooting at Freeman High School.
People who are depressed, mentally ill, or who are just kids shouldn't have easy access to guns. And that leads to another key factor.
If all gun owners secured their firearms, it would go far in preventing suicides, other unintended gun deaths and in some cases mass shootings. Think about what happened at Sandy Hook.
Adam Lanza's mother took her mentally ill son target shooting with her AR-15 – a gun that she left unsecured.
Lanza's first victim was his own mother, and he used her own gun. If the gun was locked, would it have prevented the murders of all those innocent children? It might have. Is that something we legislate? I don't know. That's up to you.
We also need to ask the question: Do we really need 30 or 100 rounds in a gun to protect ourselves? Should we pass laws limiting the number of bullets a gun can hold? That's up to you.
If we had more time, we could get into background checks and how our culture celebrates gun violence in movies, TV shows, and video games.
Here's what I believe is the most important thing we can do.
We have to empower one another and our children to realize "we" are the first responders. "We" are on the front lines of this fight.
In the Mukilteo shooting, the shooter explicitly told friends what he was going to do, and no one called the police.
We have to get to the point that we and our kids feel empowered to get help for those at risk. The TSA tells us if we "see something, say something" at the airport. Isn't that what we all should do wherever we go?
Getting back to the question I asked a minute ago: Are you okay with what happened in Las Vegas? If you're not okay with it, then what are you going to do about it?
To be honest, we'll never be able to prevent every shooting. But maybe we can prevent some. And maybe we can keep the numbers of those killed lower than would otherwise happen.
We also need to take this debate back from the fringes. It will never get solved until we find common-sense middle ground. Tonight, all I ask is that you reflect on what you can do to make a difference. Own "your" part. And let's move forward, because this has got to stop.
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