OPINION: We should not have to keep writing pieces like this.

Price Wilborn, Commentary Editor

A gunman opened fire at a bank in Louisville, Kentucky at approximately 8:30 a.m. EDT Monday morning, killing five people and injuring nine others, including two officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department.

I’m from Shelbyville, Kentucky. Louisville is just one county over from where I live. I spend a lot of time in Louisville. I’ve stayed in a hotel visible in pictures published by several news outlets. I’ve watched many baseball games at Louisville Slugger Field, which is being used by authorities as a base of operations for emergency response and investigation.

Louisville has been such a large part of my life, and it hurts me to see such tragedy happen in a community that means so much to me.

Louisville is hurting. Kentucky is hurting. The United States is hurting. And all this pain is unnecessary.

Following the shooting at Michigan State University earlier this semester that killed three college students that were around my age, I wrote about school safety and gun control. Since then, three nine year olds and three school staff members were killed in a shooting at Covenant Christian School in Nashville, Tennessee. And now this.

Journalists and people like me shouldn’t have to keep reporting on events like these and shouldn’t have to keep writing articles like this one.

I have grown angry, and so have many Americans. Our fellow countrymen and women have been killed needlessly in the streets, in their homes, in their schools and in their workplaces. When will politicians and people in power on both sides of the aisle finally realize that enough is enough?

The shooting in Louisville was the 146th mass shooting in the United States in 2023. April 10 was only the 100th day of 2023. One mass shooting is one too many. 146 mass shootings in 100 days should be unfathomable, but all you need to do is look at the United States of America.

There is no one answer to this issue, but there are many places to start.

Many on the left have been working for years, trying to pass an assault weapons ban in the United States. It was done in 1994 following several mass shootings in the years immediately prior to the bill’s passage. The bill received bipartisan support, with 46 Republicans voting in favor of the measure and 64 Democrats voting against. The bill was passed and signed by President Bill Clinton and was in effect until its expiration in 2004.

During the 10 years the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was law, there were several years in which there were no mass shootings, an achievement that seems unreachable today.

An assault weapons ban has the support of many congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden. Many countries around the world have already enacted assault weapons bans. According to TIME Magazine, the countries of New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom and Australia enacted assault weapons bans and other forms of gun control after just one mass shooting in each respective country.

What happens in the United States? Representative Tim Burchett, a member of the Tennessee state legislature, said of mass shootings and gun violence in America after the shooting at Covenant Christian School shooting that “we’re not gonna fix it.”

There is no need for AR-15s and other assault rifles to be so easily accessible. These weapons were made for warfare, and as such have no need on the streets and in schools. An assault weapons ban has worked before, and it can work again. Americans deserve to be safe and they deserve to have the opportunity to live their lives without the fear of going to work or school and not coming home.

Republicans are vehemently against an assault weapons ban or any form of gun legislation that restricts the rights of Americans to own any kind of firearm. Guns are a way of life for many. They argue that the right to own a gun is protected by the Second Amendment and that owning a gun is one of the most American things one can do.

It is important to take the entire context of the Second Amendment. It reads, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights had a completely different view of life than we did. Standing armies were not trusted because of the experience with the English prior to the American Revolution. The colonists won the war with a militia, and it was through a militia that the framers believed would best protect the new country. Americans had to be given the right to bear arms so they could come together and take up arms against a threat that needed to be defended against.

The framers could also have never imagined the invention of weapons like assault rifles and other weapons that are used in warfare, nor could they have imagined that hundreds of Americans would be killed in mass shootings every year.

Many on the right argue that it is not a gun issue but a mental health issue. I agree that mental health is at the heart of this issue, but Republicans in Congress and in state legislatures have made little to no effort in making mental health care more accessible.

Comprehensive efforts must be taken by Congress to create a system that places more weight on the importance of good mental health. Putting funding towards developing initiatives and programs that raise mental health awareness and increase access to mental health care providers to all levels of American society will be needed.

This is a noble cause, one that should be pursued at all levels of government until the United States is a leader in providing care for those struggling with mental health. If resources are more accessible, those at risk will be able to channel this energy to meaningful endeavors instead of taking an assault rifle to work or school, killing innocent Americans that have too much life left to live.

It is past time for Republicans to catch up with Democrats and work together to pass comprehensive mental health legislation. Instead, those who constantly say that mass shootings are a mental health issue are also the ones who dismiss it as being “soft” and trivial.

While mental health is a noble cause, we cannot be naive and think that this is the only part of this problem. No one has a need to own an assault rifle. Guns do not need to be taken away. The Second Amendment was ratified nearly 232 years ago. It is time to admit that guns are part of the problem and that there is no reason for weapons meant to mutilate and kill humans to be owned by Americans.

To quote President Jed Bartlet from “the West Wing,” “the streets of Heaven are too crowded with angels.” Joshua Barrick, Deana Eckert, Thomas Elliot, Juliana Farmer and James Tutt died in Louisville on April 10. Evelyn Dieckhaus, Mike Hill, Katherine Koonce, Cynthia Peak, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney lost their lives in the Covenant School shooting.

It is time to honor these Americans whose light left this world too early. They deserve to not have died in vain.

It is time for real change. It is time for politicians to begin caring about the future and stop living in the past.

The streets of Heaven are too crowded with angels.

Commentary editor Price Wilborn can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @pricewilborn.

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