It’s easy to understand why some people have completely opted out of politics. Sifting through media hype to stay informed is time consuming, and it can often seem as though political parties are only interested in winning and accumulating power.
Supporting independent candidates that have no chance at being elected in a two-party system can be discouraging as well. Whatever the reason, many have eliminated politics from their everyday lives. Contacting legislators, attending meetings, writing letters, engaging in political discourse, and, yes, even voting, are no longer deemed civic responsibilities.
If this has become our social norm, it’s disappointing, but not tragic. The lights will stay on, and for many people, that will suffice. Unfortunately, American society has one problem that affects every age, gender, geographic location, sexual orientation, race and socio-economic level, and it’s spreading, virtually unchecked, by our lawmakers due to special-interest influence. Gun violence. It’s the one issue that affects everyone, every day, even if it’s just the anxiety of knowing it can happen anywhere at any time.
Approximately 1 mass shooting per day
This problem, this political issue, requires our immediate, collective attention. So far this year, our country has averaged approximately one mass shooting per day, more than 44,000 gun violence incidents overall, and more than 11,000 deaths. The numbers are climbing every year.
Here in Minnesota, more people are dying because of gun violence than opioid use or car crashes. The nonpartisan House Public Information Services Office took a poll at the Minnesota State Fair this summer. Nearly 90 percent of those polled support background checks on all gun sales, including private transactions and sales made at gun shows. Another poll, conducted this year by SurveyUSA on behalf of Everytown, showed that 87 percent of Minnesotans support temporarily blocking a person from having guns if there are clear red flags that he or she poses a serious risk of harm to self or others.
A matter of civic responsibility
The people of Minnesota have spoken, but our legislators aren’t listening. In the last legislative session, the Minnesota House Public Safety Committee flatly refused to even conduct hearings on background checks or a red flag law. If there were ever an issue that needed your support, it’s gun violence prevention. It’s now a matter of civic responsibility.
Please make an exception for this one issue and actively vote for gun sense candidates this fall. We need legislators who will represent our will so that we can pass reasonable gun laws and reverse this terrifying trend.
Jo Haugen is a local gun-sense advocate and member of several gun violence prevention organizations.
WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?
If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, see our Submission Guidelines.)