Today at around 7:00 am, a gunman walked onto a field where Republicans were practicing for the annual baseball fundraising game against the Democrats. James Hodgkinson, 66 of Belleville, IL was stated to have asked if the persons on the field were "Republican or Democrat." Upon learning that they were in fact GOP leaders, Hodgkinson opened fire hitting House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, along with a Capital Police officer, a. congressional staffer and a lobbyist. Hodgkinson engaged in a gun fight where he was shot and died from his injuries at a local D.C. hospital.
Scalise was listed in critical condition after surgery while the other three victims were stable and recovering. Although police are saying they have no motive, Hodgkinson clearly despised the GOP, and especially President Donald Trump. Hodgkinson also ranted against Hillary Clinton. Hodgkinson was a staunch supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, claiming to have worked on Sanders campaign, although Sanders camp denounces any record of this claim.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco:
Around 8:55 am (PST), a UPS employee opened fired at the facility located at 320 San Bruno Ave in San Francisco, killing three people before turning the gun on himself. The shooter was identified as Jimmy Lam, a current UPS employer. Although no photos have been released of Lam as of the time of this post, but sources say Lam had a history of mental illness and was estranged from his wife. Only one victim has been identied as 46 year old UPS driver, Mike Lefiti. The remaining two victims will not be identified until family is notified.
My thoughts are with each and every person affected by the activities in Alexandria and San Francisco. No one expects to be shot simply playing baseball or going to work to make a living. But this is becoming a sad and all too familiar reality in the United States. Racial and political tensions are at an all time high. As people struggle with trying to stay afloat in an economy that continues to squeeze the majority of the working class, mental illness is also on the rise. Yet, so are gun sales.
Are we ready to talk about mental illness and gun access?
Let me start off by saying, I am not "anti-gun." I am a gun owner myself. However, it is clear that we have a direct link with mental illness, easy gun access and mass shootings. If you knew that a person in your life suffered from mental health issues, would you personally put a firearm in their hand? The answer I would hope, would be a quick NO. So shouldn't we apply that same common sense with regards to requiring criminal AND mental health background checks on an individual seeking to purchase a firearm? I know, "ammosexuals" will argue that there are still illegal methods of obtaining a firearm. While that is a problem of another sort, let's be clear that the kid on the Southside of Chicago who bought a firearm off the street may be a threat to someone, they are not a candidate of a mass shooting at a school, place of business etc.
While I fully support citizens having the right to "bear arms" I also support citizens being protected by laws put in place to screen those citizens buying firearms. We have to start ensuring, as much as possible, that every gun sale, no matter where, has mandatory mental health screenings along with the basic criminal background checks. More so, we must start addressing the conditions that allow mental illness to thrive and provide affordable if not FREE mental health care services to those in need. We have all heard the saying "Hurt people hurt people." This statement is resonating in a devastating manner to many people in this country daily. We all have a responsibility, responsible gun owner or gun hater, to fix this mess and quick. Write to your State Rep and demand they take a serious approach to mental health and implementing sensible gun laws to protect us all. I pray myself, my family, and those of you reading this blog, that we are not the next victims. But prayer isn't enough. It is time to ACT.
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