Sandy Hook. Parkland. UNC Charlotte. FSU. Some of these were familiar names to you, no doubt. Sadly they are all now forever etched into our minds.
Earlier this year—just a year after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School right here in Parkland, Florida—another mass killing rocked a community dear to my heart. It took the lives of fathers , mothers, sons, daughters, friends and family members in my native state of Virginia. Since then, more carnage has ensued in Ohio, Texas and Louisiana, to name a few.
We’ve seen it in our schools, in our communities and in our workplaces. Gun violence in America has become so prevalent that many have become numb and callous to the news when it breaks… “another meaningless shooting,” we say, before going on about our day. To that, I say: How many more prayers and sympathies will we share, when in fact, we can DO something about it. We should be asking, “What can we do to stop this from happening again?”
While many point to mental health problems as the key issue—and it is an important one—the better question is: Why do we have laws on the books that allow people with mental health issues access to guns to carry out mass killings? We need more assistance for this population, and more regulations to prevent them from gaining access to guns.
Polls show that a majority of Americans favor strong or moderate restrictions on firearms. Yet, time and time again these reforms fail in our state governments. You can’t legislate hatred out of someone’s heart, but we can take steps to both rigorously enforce the laws already on the books as well as enact new, common-sense legislation.
Even Virginian James Madison, who wrote the Second Amendment, envisioned for America the creation of a well-regulated militia, not an unregulated one. Yet, we have become virtually unregulated, with consequences that are all too evident—and dire.
The reality is that more guns in our schools and universities will not make us safer. People often tell me that they could stop a gunman before the police arrive if they are armed. We saw in Dayton, Ohio that even with police already on the scene, too many innocent lives were ripped away from their loved ones. If someone in that establishment had a gun and was aiming at the perpetrator, how would the police know who should live or die? We may very well have lost more lives that night, or the next night, or the night after.
Looking at the massacre in Virginia Beach, reports showed that the suspect used extended-capacity magazines as well as a suppressor (silencer). Eliminating these items from the public would in no way reduce anyone’s right to bear arms, rather it would reduce the ability of people carry out mass killings before anyone knew what was happening. We can fix this.
I say that it’s time to save lives, not repeat that all-too-often spoken phrase… “another meaningless shooting.”
Two communities I love have been infected with this scourge – and it is high time that we all work together to bring about positive change. As a registered Independent, I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but I am a concerned citizen with the well-being of my university’s students, faculty, staff, visitors and the community at large in my heart and my mind.
The time to take action is now.
George L. Hanbury II, Ph.D.
Former City Manager, City of Virginia Beach
Current President and CEO, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Nova Southeastern University fully supports an individual’s right to express their viewpoint and opinions. The views expressed in this guest editorial are that of Dr. George L. Hanbury II, President of NSU and not necessarily those of NSU’s Board of Trustees.