Daily Herald opinion: We need congressional inquiry into scourge of gun violence and how to stop it
Where today is it safe for people to gather, free from the fear of gun violence?
Post office? No.
College classroom? High school? Grade school? No. no, and, God forgive us, no.
Church? No, believe it or not.
Workplace human resources department? No.
Doctor's office? No.
Grocery store? No.
A marathon race? No.
U.S. Marine barracks? No.
Movie theater? Music concert? Picnic in the park? No, no and no.
A parade celebrating the nation's independence? Where is there a thicker or more depressing irony?
We are long past having anything new or constructive to offer in the wake of one of these horrors. Thoughts and prayers have become a target of ridicule and a shorthand for impotence. Gun control is an invitation to a divisive, insult-laden quarrel with opponents who will brook no appeal to emotion, evidence or argument. Mental health, civility, social media, declines in social norms, desensitizing entertainment media ... all elements of a prolonged social discussion that is packed more with words than action and in either case, no sense of urgency.
So we find ourselves at Highland Park, Illinois, on July 4, 2022, with nothing left but to wonder where the next outrage will take place. Surely, some response can be found to explain why Americans find themselves so captive to a trauma that no other country in the world experiences to such a degree.
Where do we look to find it?
Congress seems a natural place to start. It is, after all, the responsibility of government to protect the security and the freedom of its citizens from a scourge that has become, according to a University of Michigan study, the leading cause of death for children and adolescents.
We've been following for months the work of a congressional committee appropriately looking into the causes and implications of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. Where is the call for a nonpartisan congressional inquiry into this unrelenting torrent of violent trauma?
Let us raise it here, if nowhere else.
We need to understand this crisis in ways no one has yet found to identify a solution. We need a thorough, nonpartisan, objective, transparent, open and public examination of the sources, causes, effects and potential remedies for this affliction.
Thanks to an agreement that ended a quarter century of such willful government ignorance as an actual ban on research into gun violence, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health have begun studies -- identifying, by the way, 124 firearm deaths a day in 2020 alone.
This is important work, of course, and we look forward with hope to scientific examinations of the problems.
Just as seriously, we also need an examination of public policy. It must go beyond political hyperbole, of course. It must be rooted in fact and in compassion, and it must acknowledge that there likely is no quick fix to a problem that has festered so long and includes so many societal as well as practical tentacles.
But it must also take place. Without something of this nature, without some sincere, nationwide, pronounced attention to this crisis, it seems Americans literally will have nowhere to hide from it.
What a depressing image to consider on the day after the nation's celebration of freedom.