Editor, The Messenger:

On August 7th of last year, Amnesty International released a statement warning people who traveled to the United States to “exercise caution and have an emergency contingency plan” because of the “ubiquity of firearms” in this country, and they were right to do so. Since Amnesty International’s statement was released, there have been so many shootings it’s impossible to keep track — they’re barely even marked by pauses in the news cycle anymore.

Background checks are a reasonable step towards solving this problem. They’re not perfect and they won’t catch everyone, but the results in states where background checks have been applied are practical evidence of them working, and we cannot let perfection be the enemy of progress.

Background checks (proposed in Senate Bill 42) poll regularly above 95 percent in this country— that’s literally better than puppies poll — and at 69 percent even within the NRA’s membership. While Senator Brown has been a strong vocal advocate for gun safety legislation, still we have silence from Senator Portman and Representative Stivers. Even Governor DeWine’s plan to combat gun violence is a bandaid on a gushing wound in this state and this country.

It is a tragedy that Senator Rob Portman and Representative Steve Stivers — men elected to represent the people of Ohio and District 15 respectively — are so clearly deaf to the wishes of those they represent.

Call your congressional representatives. Tell them gun safety is important to you and to push Senate Majority Leader McConnell to call a vote on universal background checks, and then to actually vote for them. If you can, go to their offices and tell them in person.

People have died, and will continue to die until the people with the power to effect legislative change in this country decide that the body count has reached some invisible limit to finally spur change — but we don’t know what the limit is. Are we willing to wait and see if there is one at all? Do we really want to go into this new decade as a country known for allowing its own people to commit atrocities unbridled?

We are better than that, and for the sake of lives across the state and the country, we have to be better than that.

Rob Portman’s Columbus office phone: (614) 469-6774

Sherrod Brown’s Columbus office phone: (614) 469-2083

Steve Stivers’ Lancaster office phone: (740) 654-2654

Grace Ann Gasperson

Athens

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