Letter: With mass shootings, we can’t ignore the lack of action in Congress anymore

Like many of you, I watched horrified as a refrigerated morgue truck drove into the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, parking lot to pick up dead children.

As a country, we will pray. We will fly flags at half staff. We will hold vigils with candles. Likely, we will march in anger. And, our congressional leaders will be very busy on network news channels, wringing their hands in distress.

Here is what we cannot ignore: 45 of our 100 U.S. senators and 79 of our 435 House representatives have been in office for 10-plus years, during which time there have been 240 mass shootings on their watch. This includes our current president. Altogether, 307 out of 555 members of Congress have received funding from the NRA during this period. Although predominately Republican, these donations have occurred on both sides of the aisle. When these representatives are on TV this week lamenting this latest tragedy, please think hard about root cause.

Yes, mental health is a major issue in our country. And, our gun homicide rate in the U.S. is 25 times higher than other high income countries. Other countries struggle with mental health issues too. The difference? You can’t buy a gun in other countries at a gun show, or on the internet, or in a local store without background checks and waiting periods.

Our leaders in Congress will point fingers toward health services. Democrats will point fingers at Republicans, who certainly accept the lion’s share of NRA funding. Democrats are in the NRA pocket, too. President Biden was an ardent supporter of the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act, which allowed mail order, gun show and internet sales of firearms. Anyone sitting in Congress during the past decade is culpable of not doing enough to protect our children.

Root cause beyond gun laws? Lack of term limits for our representatives, and acceptance of liberal lobbyist funding. Until we limit how the gun lobby — any industry — is allowed to influence our Congress, and until we decide no one should make a lifelong career and millions of dollars as a career politician, nothing is likely to change.

It’s good to pray. It’s good to gather as communities to hold vigils. And, if we want this madness to stop, we all must look into candidate funding and ask ourselves the bigger question of how to prevent this influence … and congressional “lifers” dependent on this cash.

Jill Pesceone

Steamboat Springs

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