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Legislatively Speaking

Lena C. Taylor

It didn’t take a minute. In a combined 45 seconds, both houses of the Republican controlled Wisconsin State legislature dismissed Governor Evers’ special session on gun violence. It didn’t take a week for more unnerving examples of why these conversations must be had. Whether we start with Monday and the “hit list” generated by a 14-year old Shorewood High School student or a similar situation on Thursday, at a South Milwaukee High School, we know that more children lost their lives in school this week.

Before you say it, I will. The laws that the special session would have addressed would likely have not flagged the 16-year old young man who killed two, wounded five and shot ultimately himself. The first call came into area police at 7:38 am. Within minutes it was over. Thirty miles outside of Los Angeles, California, the lives of impacted students and families would never be the same.

Like many around the country, I was alarmed when reports starting coming in that yet another school shooting was happening on Thursday morning. It was the 30th school shooting so far this year, that included loss of life or injury. I was then reminded of the message that Donald Trump gave to students headed to school on Aug. 9 of this year. Trump told students to go back to class and not worry about school shootings. Clearly, someone should worry.

Wherever we can make a difference, it is irresponsible to do nothing. We know that there are many contributing factors to gun violence and there is no one-stop answer to address the crisis we face. Where we can make inroads, we should. The arguments that have been put forth by Republican legislators, locally and nationally, are taking on water. The latest ruling by the Supreme Court may be signaling a new wave. After years of trying, the families of Sandy Hook children and teachers killed in the 2012 mass shooting, are finally getting the green light to sue the gun manufacturer of the weapons used in that horrible tragedy.

While it may seem like an eternity, often the mass loss of life happens in just a few minutes. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida lasted seven minutes, killing 17 people and injuring 17 others. The Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando lasted 30 minutes, with 49 people killed and 53 others wounded. The Mandalay Bay shooter shot at concertgoers in Las Vegas for about 11-15 minutes according to police. Yet, the final death toll was 58 and more than 800 people were injured. It’s a shame that all the time our Republican legislators had to entertain a discussion on gun violence was 45 seconds.

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