This has got to end

Wednesday afternoon, our nation began to receive news and images from an unfolding incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It was yet another mass shooting. This time 17 people were killed by a lone gunman. Once again, my heart is broken. This has got to end. 

When I heard about this tragedy, I tried to imagine how I would feel if this happened at a school my sons attended. As a parent, there is nothing scarier. While I joined my colleagues in Congress in offering my prayers and condolences to the friends and family members who had their loved ones taken from them in Parkland, I must also say that our prayers and condolences are not enough. We must also take action to address our country’s epidemic of gun violence.

I strongly believe we can reduce gun violence without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. Like many Delawareans, I have a long family history with firearms. My ancestors were craftsmen who developed a firearm known as the “Carper Rifle” over 150 years ago in West Virginia, and my father was an avid outdoorsman and gun collector. When I was young, he taught me to hunt and fish, but he also taught me the value of using common sense.

Just about everyone I’ve spoken with in Delaware about this issue, including the overwhelming majority of gun owners, believes that closing loopholes in the background check system is common sense. That’s why I joined my colleagues in reintroducing legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases online and at gun shows. I also continue to support measures to prevent anyone on a terrorist watch list – anyone deemed too dangerous to fly on an airplane – from purchasing firearms.

Additionally, immediately following the Las Vegas shooting last October that took the lives of 58 innocent men and women – the single deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history – I joined my colleagues in introducing legislation to ban bump stocks, which allowed the shooter to fire hundreds of bullets per minute into a crowd of innocent people. Unfortunately, this bill has never even come up for a vote on the Senate floor.

Like many Americans, I continue to mourn and pray for Parkland. But I’ve mourned and prayed too many times to count: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, and the list goes on. I believe Congress has a moral obligation to act to reduce gun violence. And I believe we can’t give up on using common sense to make our communities safer. This has got to end.