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Not praying, not thinking 

Staff Note

America has a problem.

We were still mourning the murder of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh when we learned of the deaths of 13 people, including the shooter, in a country bar in Thousand Oaks, California, at the hands of an angry man with a gun.

In between those two shootings, three people, including the shooter, were killed in a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida.

Over and over again, gunmen are killing people at concerts, bars, schools, churches, synagogues. It seems no place is safe.

Colorado's not immune, with mass shootings at Columbine High School, a movie theater in Aurora and at Planned Parenthood and New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

Children died at Sandy Hook Elementary School and teenagers in Parkland, Florida.

Each time, politicians sent thoughts and prayers via social media, but refused to act, turning sympathy into a parody of itself. As the mom of a victim in Thousand Oaks said: "I don't want thoughts and prayers..."

We need action. Legislative action. Real action to control weapons that have no other purpose than to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

The debate isn't about rifles or shotguns or hunting. It's not about handguns for personal protection. The problem is assault weapons, bump stocks and magazines that allow people to shoot repeatedly without reloading. As one mom from Sandy Hook explained: If the shooter had needed to stop and reload more kids could have escaped. Eleven got away while he was reloading, but her 6-year-old son wasn't as lucky. The killer pumped five bullets into his small body.

We are awash in weapons. According to the BBC, studies show that 40 percent of Americans own guns, and we have the highest rate of murder or manslaughter by firearms in the developed world. The Trump administration doesn't care about violence or death or mental health. They care about money and power and manipulation. The president rolled back Obama-era rules that make it harder for mental health patients to obtain firearms. Suicides continue to rise, as do mass shootings.

The politicians aren't praying. They aren't thinking about the victims. They are counting the cash from the National Rifle Association. They don't care about dead children; they care about their next campaign donation. If they actually were concerned about violence in America they'd do something about it.

It wasn't until 2008 that the Supreme Court said the Second Amendment guarantees an individual's right to own a gun. Now, it's established precedent, but it doesn't override those basic American rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Gun violence in America is destroying those values.

Our nation's love affair with guns doesn't supersede other rights — it's not absolute. No one should have to figure out the closest exit before the movie starts; kids shouldn't have to practice safety drills for active shooters; teachers should teach, not worry about protecting their students; people should go to synagogues or churches without fear.

It's time to reconsider the assault weapons ban and to outlaw bump stocks. It's time to consider the mental health of people buying weapons. The Colorado delegation to Congress needs to come together to solve gun violence. We know U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn won't be on board, but take action without him. We don't need more insincere thoughts and prayers. We need change. Our government's inaction is killing us.

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