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The status quo is unacceptable

Editorials

9/6/2019, 6 a.m.
Another weekend, another mass shooting — this time in Odessa, Texas, where a 36-year-old man, who had been fired from ...

Another weekend, another mass shooting — this time in Odessa, Texas, where a 36-year-old man, who had been fired from his oil services job earlier Saturday, initially shot a Texas state trooper during a routine traffic stop and then went on a 10-mile, hourlong shooting rampage, killing and wounding people in passing cars, in neighborhoods, at car dealerships and shopping plazas and killing a postal worker while hijacking her mail truck.

The gunman finally was taken out by law enforcement authorities, but not before leaving a trail of murder and broken lives. He killed seven people ranging in age from 15 to 57 and wounded 25 others, including a 17-month-old baby and three police officers.

And what is the reaction out of Washington?

#MassacreMitch, the new and applicable moniker for U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, continues to sandbag even basic efforts for tighter gun control nationally. 

The Republican leader has refused to take up legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives in February that would expand federal background checks before gun purchases. The bill, which had bipartisan support in the House, would close loopholes that allow private and online sales of guns, and sales of weapons at gun shows, without background checks.

According to reports, the Odessa, Texas, gunman took advantage of such loopholes to obtain the AR-style rifle he used to carry out Saturday’s massacre. He purchased the weapon from a private dealer, bypassing the federal background check, which he had failed during a 2014 gun purchase attempt because of “mental issues.”

Sen. McConnell, who declined to call the Senate back into session from its summer recess to take up gun control legislation following the back-to-back mass murders in early August in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, said this week that he’s waiting for President Trump to say what bill he’d be willing to sign into law before taking up a measure in the Senate.

We don’t understand or support that rationale, particularly when 61 percent of Americans favor stricter gun laws, according to a May Quinnipiac poll, and 94 percent supported universal background checks for all gun purchases.

The Odessa massacre is just the latest indication of the violent sickness that has stricken our nation. According to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, it was the 289th mass shooting in the United States this year, claiming a collective 313 lives and causing 1,209 injuries. The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are shot and/or killed.

  We ask again, how many people must die before Congress — and yes, members of the Virginia General Assembly — decide to take action? Are Virginians OK with mass murders being our new normal?

The violence in Odessa took place exactly three months after the tragic mass shooting in Virginia Beach in which a gunman who had quit his job as a civil engineer with the City of Virginia Beach opened fire in the municipal building, killing 12 people and wounding four others.