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Op-Ed in the New York Daily News: Civilians have no reason for owning assault weapons, but Congress lacks the courage to stop them

June 14th, 2016

By: Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA)

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“My thoughts and prayers are with those in Orlando.” — Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.)

It’s a hollow tradition following each mass shooting, and it has become routine: President Obama gives a speech, reminding us that living this way is a choice. The NRA releases a statement bemoaning the lack of guns at the shooting. And Congress sends their thoughts and prayers.

But the victims’ families don’t want our thoughts and prayers. They want our action, preferably before their loved ones are needlessly massacred.

We have chosen this reality. We have decided as a country that it is easier to periodically bury the innocent than to make tough decisions to address the actual cause of this modern, and uniquely American, scourge.

Before the killer’s gun even stopped smoking, some rushed to blame “radical Islam.”

Some disgusting individuals even celebrated the attack as a vindication of their repugnant, bigoted views. We do not yet know all of the facts surrounding this latest act of terror. But we do know that there is only one common factor linking every mass shooting: a gun.

I’m a Marine. I carried guns every day in Iraq, guns very similar to the ones used to perpetrate the Orlando murders and many other mass shootings in America. I’ve used guns in combat. On more than one occasion, guns have saved my life. But there’s a big difference between a U.S. Marine with a rifle and a civilian with a gun.

I trained for years in order to use my weapon properly. And long before I ever aimed it at an individual, I had to look at pictures of dead and mangled bodies in order to understand the magnitude of what it meant to pull that trigger.

So believe me when I tell you: There’s simply no reason for a civilian to own a military-style assault weapon. It’s no different than why we outlaw civilian ownership of rockets and landmines.

Thankfully, Congress has the ability and authority to eliminate the civilian sale of these weapons of war. We have before, and we should again.

That’s not all. Congress can prevent future tragedies by requiring a background check for every gun purchase in America. Congress can prevent people on terrorism watch lists from buying guns. And Congress can lift the restrictions on the study of the causes of gun violence, so that we can at the very least better understand why this keeps happening.

Most in Congress know this. They know that something is wrong in our country when massive murder sprees become routine. They simply lack the political courage to do something about it.

So, spare these innocent victims your thoughts and prayers. Instead, let’s honor their memory by vowing to do everything we can to prevent another senseless slaughter.

Op-Ed is online here.

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