Congress must deal with U.S. gun violence

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is pushing Congress to make cutting gun violence a priority in 2016.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is pushing Congress to make cutting gun violence a priority in 2016. The Associated Press

When Congress returned to Washington, D.C., last week after more than 50 days of summer vacation, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence was waiting for the lawmakers with a shocking number.

While House and Senate members were away, 4,500 Americans were shot to death. Some were children; most were adults.

Brady Campaign officials are right to let lawmakers know the outcome of their inaction on legislation to curb gun violence. The gun industry has stalled measures in Washington and worked to get many states to liberalize weapons laws, including in Missouri (see the As I See It column on this page).

Unfortunately, Congress will have only four weeks in session before the November election to try to pass any meaningful reforms, which means it likely will have wait until debate in the 2017 session.

This has been a brutal, bloody year in many of America’s big cities, and Kansas City is among them.

As of Friday, Kansas City had recorded 79 homicides, which was way ahead of the 64 by this time last year, 54 by the same date in 2014, 70 in 2013 and 71 in 2012.

City officials in 2014 were proud that anti-violence efforts held homicide totals for that year to 82 instead of the usual count of 100 or more slayings. But last year, the number went back up to 111 and could even top that by year’s end.

Police, prosecutors and city officials must find better solutions to the homicide problem. Guns were used in 70 of the attacks in Kansas City, and they are far too easy to get. Guns are behind killings in many of America’s other big cities, too.

Chicago’s homicide total for this year topped 500 over the Labor Day weekend. That city has suffered more slayings so far in 2016 than New York and Los Angeles combined. It’s very likely Chicago’s homicide total will be more than 600 — the first time since 2003.

The Brady Campaign doesn’t want lawmakers to surrender to their fear of the National Rifle Association and other gun lobbyists. Instead, Congress should act progressively to keep more people from dying from gun violence.

Arresting the gun problem with meaningful legislation has to become part of the presidential debate. It has to be addressed by candidates running for House, Senate and statehouse seats.

Fortunately groups such as the Brady Campaign haven’t given up. Its campaign is for more Americans to live and for gun violence to fade into the country’s past.