Our View: Doing nothing is no longer an option

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A victim is wheeled away on a stretcher following a shooting that killed multiple people at a social services facility Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif.

When the news broke Wednesday about the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., we were struck by a too-familiar, sinking realization.

Not again.

As news reports documented that 14 people were killed and more than a dozen were wounded at the Inland Regional Center, which serves people with developmental disabilities, in San Bernardino, we were even more saddened when we consulted a database , which reports 462 people have died and 1,314 have been wounded in mass attacks — defined as shootings that leave at least four people wounded or dead — throughout the United States in 2015.

Mass shootings are that common in the United States. In fact, they're so common, you've probably forgotten about some of them.

• Ten people were killed and seven wounded on Oct. 1 when a 26-year-old man attacked Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore.


• A 21-year-old man shot and killed nine people on June 27 during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

• A 22-year-old man killed six and wounded 13 in a series of shooting and stabbing attacks on May 23, 2014, near the University of California, Santa Barbara.

• Twelve people were killed on Sept. 16, 2013, when a 34-year-old man attacked a Navy yard in Washington, D.C.

• A 20-year-old man killed 20 first-graders and six adult school staff members on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

• Twelve people died, and 70 were wounded on July 20, 2012, when a 27-year-old man opened fire in Aurora, Colo., movie theater.

Minnesota is not immune to mass shootings. Six people were killed and two wounded when a recently fired employee opened fire Sept. 27, 2012, at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis. Nine people were killed and five wounded on March 21, 2005, when a 16-year-old killed two household members before going on a rampage at Red Lake High School.

Our nation has become a war zone, with our citizens as collateral damage. Yet, we do nothing.

According to a Washington Post-ABC News Poll , more than 90 percent of Americans favor expanded background checks for gun purchases, yet state legislatures and Congress are too afraid to stand up to the gun lobby to pass legislation that's overwhelmingly supported by their constituents.


When Rep. Kim Norton, a DFLer from Rochester, announced in September she would introduce a gun-registration bill in the 2016 Legislature, her phone lines and email box were flooded by opposition from gun-rights activists, even though the measure hasn't been written yet. While we don't know if statewide gun registration is even practical, shouldn't we at least be willing to discuss the pros and cons of such a measure? If you don't like Norton's proposal, suggest an alternative.

If Minnesota's lawmakers and residents can start the discussion in a rational way, perhaps we will become an example for other states and our federal lawmakers.

We need more, not less, discussion on this divisive issue. And we need to talk to people who disagree with us to see if there is any common ground on gun laws. Preaching to a choir made up of our friends and family isn't moving us forward.

If we continue to do nothing, another mass shooting will strike another unsuspecting community. It will happen next year, next month, next week, maybe even tomorrow — in fact, it will be tomorrow because it's happening at a rate of more than one a day. The next attack may be right here in Southeast Minnesota.

And once again, we'll say to ourselves, "Not again."

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