In an economic recovery that’s going at a snail’s pace, where getting laid off, spending months without jobs and record foreclosures are still commonplace, many people need an escape from the uncertainties of the real world. That’s why movies created from fictitious super heroes have been so popular lately. But it’s a sad day when the one place you go to “get away from it all” is no longer safe. Tragedy struck inside a suburban Colorado movie theater, but unlike the movies, there was no capped man dressed in a mask to swoop in and save the day.

Unfortunately, once again a lone gunman is making headlines for randomly killing innocent people. The latest reports say that 12 people, including young children, were killed and dozens of people were injured. Obviously the shooter has some type of psychological condition. But the real question is: why do these type of incidents keep occurring? And more importantly, how can we prevent them from happening again?

Ever since the Columbine shooting rocked the nation in 1999, these type of events seem to become commonplace. In 2003, a laid-off employee in Chicago shot and killed six of his former workmates. In 2007, student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded 15 others at Virginia Tech before shooting himself, making it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. In 2008, a man opened fire in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University killing five students and wounding 16 others. There’s the Fort Hood incident where 13 people died; the tragic shooting that injured Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people. And let’s not forget about what’s happening in Chicago almost daily. More than 250 people have been killed this year already, mostly from gun violence.

What happens after these shooting sprees play like a broken record: experts are on every television network asking for tougher gun laws and politicians on both sides of the isle play nice “singing Kumbaya” while denouncing the incident. But after the next major news event happens or the latest job numbers are released, this nationwide camaraderie dies along with any tactics to actually prevent a mass shooting from happening again.

America has a gun problem. I know many of my conservative friends may not believe me, but it’s true. The U.S. gun homicide rate is nearly 10 times higher than other wealthy, western nations. In addition, the United States has the highest rate of youth homicides and suicides among the 26 wealthiest nations. Many states in the U.S. allow legal, private gun owners at gun shows to sell their firearms to anyone without a criminal background check.

We hear so many politicians talking about stopping terrorism. And to prove their point, certain laws are in place that sometimes infringe on the lives of law-abiding citizens in order to prevent terrorists from foreign waters from attacking us . Yet, U.S. citizens can buy guns in this country relatively easy and terrorize innocent people. Are many politicians silent because of the National Rifle Association of America’s (NRA) big pockets? Maybe. In 2008, it was reported that the NRA pumped millions of dollars into the election. And according to a report, the NRA receives a lot of its funding from the gun industry.

The report, Blood Money: How the Gun Industry Bankrolls the NRA, reveals that since 2005 contributions from gun industry “corporate partners” to the NRA total between $14.7 million and $38.9 million. Total donations to the NRA from all “corporate partners”–both gun industry and non-gun industry–for the same time period total between $19.8 million and $52.6 million. The vast majority of funds–74 percent–contributed to the NRA from “corporate partners” come from members of the firearms industry: companies involved in the manufacture or sale of firearms or shooting-related products. — The Violence Policy Center

Now, I am not anti-gun. America is a free country and as citizens we do have the “right to bear arms.” But it should be within reason. I’ve heard gun advocates say things like incidents in Colorado could be stopped if more people carried concealed weapons. For instance, while discussing the movie theater shooting during a radio interview on Friday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said, “It does make me wonder, with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?” Currently, Colorado allows citizens to carry concealed weapons.

While I’m all for people defending themselves, I don’t want to live in a Wild Wild West type of society where we are all carrying guns, fearing each other, and almost waiting for something to happen—what a crazy world that would be.

At some point, America has to face the harsh reality of gun violence and confront our problem with stringent policies and practical solutions that will prevent nut jobs like James Holmes (the “Dark Knight shooter”) or even some heartless gang-banger from acquiring weapons intended to cause harm to others.

Gun violence affects all Americans, whether it’s a teenager getting shot in the Southside of Chicago or a moviegoer in Colorado. Now it’s up to us as a nation to take a stand. We need to demand that our politicians work together to pass legislation that will result in tougher gun restrictions. Let’s not be outraged just for a moment and then go back to the normalcy of our daily lives until another national tragedy happens again.

What YOU Can Do

Right now, a national petition to “Stop Arming Dangerous People” is collecting signatures. If you would like to sign the petition, click here.

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