End the violence

3/25/2021, 6 p.m.
It may seem incongruous heralding the abolition of the death penalty during a time in which two mass shootings have ...

It may seem incongruous heralding the abolition of the death penalty during a time in which two mass shootings have occurred within the space of a week.

But it is not.

The separate mass shootings — one, at three spas in Metro Atlanta last week and the other, on Tuesday at a Boulder, Colo., supermarket — were carried out by 21-year-old men, both of whom clearly were in need of psychiatric help and one who may have a deep-seated hatred of Asian women.

Both tragedies show this country is in need of help because we haven’t had the will or taken action to prevent these horrific situations through the decades, even as we claim to abhor them.

The gruesome massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado took place April 20, 1999, while the shoot-up at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater took place July 20, 2012. Mass shootings have impacted communities from coast to coast in this nation — including at Virginia Tech in 2007 and the Virginia Beach Municipal Center in 2019. We continue to offer thoughts and prayers for the victims of these mass casualties and their families, but little has changed nationally to block access to assault-style weapons like the one used in Colorado, or the ease with which guns can be purchased as in the Atlanta case.

We must change that.

We call on the U.S. Senate to pass laws on universal background checks and gun safety measures already approved by the House of Representatives and to ban assault weapons that have no place outside of warfare.

Background checks review a gun buyer’s criminal and mental health histories and may turn up factors that could bar someone from purchasing a gun.

We also call for more funding for mental health in this nation.

We ask President Biden to take executive action on these issues if Congress fails to act.

The nation needs more than a consoler-in-chief. We need im- mediate action.

With both the Senate and the House under Democratic control, the administration needs to use this opportunity to make change happen.

Despite the Cherokee County, Ga., Sheriff’s Office spokesperson and others being tone deaf, we believe the shootings in Atlanta were hate crimes, with the shooter targeting Asian women. Six of the eight victims last week were Asian women.

All forms of racism are fruit from the same poisonous tree, says Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans, in writing about this spate of violence. We all are victims when one is a victim.

We stand in empathy and solidarity with our Asian sisters and brothers who have been the victims of violence.

No one should be afraid to go to the store, to work, to school, to church, to the movies or the club and fear for their life. Black people, who have long been targets in this country, understand that fear.

Let’s work together to end the violence.