by David Safier
NOTE: Please sign the petition urging Ron Barber to "Take the lead in Congress to address the epidemic of mass shootings."
I'm taking Congressman Ron Barber's op ed in today's AZ Republic as a hopeful signal that he plans to stand up.
I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms — but we must take action to deal with the easy availability of assault weapons and extended magazines.
We must take action to prevent people who are a danger to themselves and others from getting access to these weapons.
We must not wait any longer to address this crisis. But we must also recognize that these issues are not the only pieces in a complex problem to which there is no single answer.
Barber goes on to discuss the links between mental illness, gun availability and mass shootings:
After I was wounded almost two years ago, I took steps to address the mental-health issue head-on. My family and I founded the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding, and our first priority was to increase community awareness and to remove the stigma that prevents many people from getting treatment for a mental illness.
This year, I co-sponsored the Mental Health First Aid Higher Education Act, which would provide training to help people identify and respond to signs of mental illness and deal with psychiatric crises. The bill did not pass this year, but I am committed to reintroducing it next session. We also must protect state and federal funding for mental-health services.
There are many other factors that can produce a violent tragedy. But we do know that the availability of certain weapons coupled with mental illness is a recipe for disaster.
Our president said Friday that we must come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this — regardless of politics.
I agree and we must take action now, together, as a national community. We cannot wait.
I commend Congressman Barber for taking this first, important step. I hope he will take a front seat in the congressional push for sane gun regulations, including closing the gun show loophole.