[Editor’s note: The following statement was issued by JACL Public Affairs VP Sarah Baker and JACL Education & Communications Coordinator Matthew Weisbly, and was lightly edited only to adhere to AP Style.]
Last night, our nation once again felt outrage, pain and sadness in response to what we call another senseless mass murder of innocent children. Or is it really a numbness, that we now go through the motions of expressing our anger for a few days and then move on with our lives until the next act that stirs our ire?
In Uvalde, Texas, there are now 21 households where they will not have that luxury of moving on with their lives, where there is now an empty bed and seat at the dinner table. And yet, according to GunViolenceArchive.org, Uvalde is the 213th incident of a mass shooting this year. There were at least 15 additional shooting incidents on May 24 resulting in a fatality. There have been 17,194 fatalities due to gun violence this year to date, every one of those deaths impacting loved ones and communities.
It is the school shootings that elicit the strongest cries of “Never Again.” Yet it has been more than four years since Parkland, more than nine years since Sandy Hook, and more than 23 years since Columbine. Our response as a nation has been to teach our children how to respond to a lockdown drill.
We can do better. In fact, we can do much better, yet the Senate has yet to pass H.R. 8, a bill to establish minimum background checks prior to the purchase of a firearm. As the first meaningful step towards addressing the pandemic of gun violence in this country, the Senate must act decisively and immediately to pass H.R.8. We must then engage in meaningful dialogue as a nation on what we can do to ensure that our children’s lives are not an acceptable cost of our Second Amendment rights. Thoughts and prayers are not enough — we need action now.