America’s epidemic of gun violence has gotten worse instead of getting better. Our nation is reeling from a string of tragedies that include a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and a supermarket on the east side of Buffalo, New York. I am devastated by the loss of those killed — as well as every victim of gun violence — and continue to pray for their loved ones experiencing unimaginable grief.
However, we know that thoughts and prayers aren’t enough, and faith without action is meaningless. It’s long past time to enact sensible gun safety reforms. Policies that strengthen background checks and limit the purchase of assault rifles can help save countless lives. These changes are supported by a majority of Americans, and they just make sense. The House of Representatives has listened to our constituents and passed bills that achieve this — twice in the last three years.
However, Republican senators continue to block passage of these bills. Those on the other side of the aisle claim those of us who are outraged by the obstruction and inaction are “politicizing” these tragedies. But how can we not talk about the politics blocking progress? These shootings are a direct result of their policies that allow dangerous and unstable individuals to own or buy guns, as well as their unwavering loyalty to the gun lobby that finances their campaigns. This needs to be called out by the majority of Americans who are demanding change.
It’s also not lost on me that these mass shootings, and many others, were committed in minority communities. Uvalde, Texas, is around 80% Latino and Buffalo’s east side is largely Black. In Charleston, South Carolina, the state’s oldest Black church was targeted by a hate-filled young man who wanted to start a race war. In the case of Buffalo and Charleston, we know that the shooters were motivated by racism. But even if bigotry isn’t always the cause for shootings in minority communities, it’s clear that minority communities continue to face the greatest threat of gun violence.
That’s why, in addition to passing gun safety laws, we also need to direct more of our resources toward understanding and stopping racially motivated violence toward Black and brown people. Our government identified this as the greatest threat to our national security, and recent shootings help confirm this troubling fact.
As the chairman of the Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee, I’m leading efforts to counter this global threat. I’ve conducted hearings with experts in our intelligence community to learn more about white nationalism, and I have led legislation that directs more resources to stop acts of violence inspired by this movement.
The combination of hateful ideologies — which are spreading faster than ever through social media — and easy access to guns presents a deadly threat to minority communities. We deserve to live our lives without fear. We should be able to go to worship services, go shopping or go to school without the threat of being gunned down. Our kids should not have to practice lockdown drills in class at an age when they should be enjoying their childhood. If America is truly the land of the free, then why are we trapped by fear? The Second Amendment is NOT more important than our inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Like you, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired, but with greater courage and political will, we don’t have to be anymore. I hope you will join me, and keep working to enact the lifesaving reforms we desperately need.
Rep. Carson represents the 7th District of Indiana. He is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and one of three Muslims in Congress. Rep. Carson sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, where he is chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation. Contact Rep. Carson at carson.house.gov/contact.