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Another school shooting: 19 children and two teachers massacred and officers wounded by an 18-year-old wielding an AR-15, in Uvalde, Texas.

Again, our leaders offered thoughts and prayers.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) was “horrified and heartbroken.” She wrote “secured, limited entry points” will address the problem, even though Texas set aside $100 million for that purpose and the little town of Uvalde just spent $650,000 on security infrastructure at that school.

Blackburn advocates for “increased funding for school resource officers.” Good men with guns — even trained police officers — are a poor match for a man with an assault weapon. Uvalde police did little until a military-style SWAT team showed up.

Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) tweeted he would pray for the school, the families, the community. Perhaps motherhood and apple pie, too. Sadly, there was no evidence he prayed for divine guidance regarding what he should actually DO about shootings. After all, he is a senator, one among 100 of the most powerful people governing the most powerful nation.

Perhaps senators should pray for forgiveness after having failed to limit access to assault weapons. Such weapons accounted for 85% of mass-shooting deaths between 1981 and 2017, according to a NYU School of Medicine study. When assault weapons are used, more people die.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) helpfully suggested improved mental health care is needed, even though he just cut Texas’ mental health funding by $100 million.

The Federalist suggested a solution to school shootings was to remove kids from schools. That should win this year’s gas-lighting prize, as just a few months ago they wailed about Democrats’ “tyrannical” COVID restrictions ruining kids by keeping them out of school.

These embarrassingly inane and insincere remarks are designed to give the appearance of action, to say something, anything, yakkety-yak, without actually DOING anything.

It is time we talked about the elephant in the room.

As these senators rushed to tweet about the shooting, they failed to mention they accepted big bucks from the National Rifle Association. That money was given in part to ensure senators oppose restrictions on assault weapons.

Assault weapons constitute one in five weapons sold. Marketing efforts appeal to masculine insecurity: “Consider your man card reissued,” says one advertisement.

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According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Marsha Blackburn and newby Bill Hagerty have received $1.3 million and $10,550 respectively from the NRA. They take their cues from leading Republicans like Mitt Romney ($14 million) and Mitch McConnell ($1.3 million). Forty-eight Republican U.S. senators took an average of $1.2 million each. There is no gentle way to say it: Republican senators have paid their debt to the NRA with children’s lives.

No other advanced country has our problem with guns, nor are assault weapons so available.

Before you can drive a car, you must first study, practice, be tested, and demonstrate you are capable of using a vehicle safely. That process takes months, even years. Yet, an 18-year-old can buy an assault weapon and ammunition on a whim.

A friend of mine takes care of her mentally ill nephew. In order to be responsible for the nephew’s modest monthly Social Security payment, she underwent an intense background check, then annual reviews to verify she is still worthy. But a teen can buy an assault weapon.

The contractor who ran electric wires in your home demonstrated they were capable before they could electrify houses. But an 18-year-old can buy an assault weapon.

Similar to getting your first driver’s license, someone purchasing their first gun should take a gun safety course — such as those offered by the NRA — and demonstrate proficiency. Passing a background check, and knowing how to handle, maintain, store and safely use a weapon is pretty basic.

When the Second Amendment was adopted, “arms” consisted of muskets and flintlocks. In contrast, assault weapons are semi-automatic, have interchangeable magazines, bullets travel faster than sound and shatter on impact, converting flesh and bones into mush.

Constitutional rights are routinely regulated: e.g., voting restrictions for felons and limits on speech (defamation, fraud, obscenity).

I support people owning weapons for sport and self- defense. But I’m happy the crazy neighbor down the street can’t buy bazookas or missiles. He doesn’t need an assault weapon, either.

Congress should establish reasonable rules for weapon acquisition.

Share your thoughts and prayers with your senator at www.senate.gov.

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David Kashdan, Ph.D., is retired director of Eastman Chemical Research Division and a senior consultant with RISE: Research Institutes of Sweden. Email him at davidkashdan@yahoo.com.

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