Guest Commentary | Gun violence: We all need to be part of conversation, solution

Guest Commentary | Gun violence: We all need to be part of conversation, solution

By REP. RODNEY DAVIS

As someone who was the target of a mass shooting last June when a man fired nearly 100 rounds at me and my colleagues on a baseball field because of our political beliefs, I agree with Mr. Hector Mandel, from Philo, who wrote in a recent letter to the editor that "more can be done to stop shootings." But that doesn't just mean Congress, and it's not just about guns.

In my case, I believe that over-the-top, hateful political rhetoric, which has become far too common in our society, contributed to a deranged individual targeting a group of Republican members of Congress on a baseball field. We can disagree politically, but the hate and vitriol needs to stop. That's on all of us.

The only thing that truly saved us that day was Majority Whip Steve Scalise's detail, Capitol Police Officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner, who could fire back.

We recently saw how the heroic actions of a school resource officer saved the lives of countless students at a school shooting in Maryland last month. I believe our schools should be better protected, have more coordination with local law enforcement, and implement more targeted programs to identify and help kids who are struggling and could be a danger to themselves or others. That's why I fought for federal funding to help our schools improve safety.

Two things that Mr. Mandel didn't mention in his letter to the editor was that the bill that contained the STOP School Violence Act also included a provision to strengthen background checks, which will help prevent people who shouldn't be able to purchase a gun legally from falling through the cracks, and a provision that allows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on the causes of gun violence. We cannot only look at the firearm part of the equation, or we will fall short and solve nothing.

From Congress to law enforcement to schools, we all have to be part of the conversation and part of the solution. Just passing another law is not enough. We've seen too many of these shootings happen because there was a breakdown in our system and a failure to act in many cases. We need to take a step back from the politics of it and figure out what changes are needed to be effective in stopping and reducing these acts of violence.

These are the conversations I continue to have with leaders across the district to determine what changes we can make to increase safety in our communities.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, represents represents Illinois' 13th Congressional District in the House of Representatives.