This is an urgent plea to support common sense gun control. Again this nation is faced with another tragedy, this time resulting from an expelled high school student armed with an AR-15, who took the lives of 17 individuals during his shooting rampage.

How many more lives will be extinguished as a consequence of gun violence? The Florida shooting is just the latest reminder of the persistence of gun violence in the United States. A massive database tracked and maintained by the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation shows rates of gun deaths in the U.S. are far greater than in much of the rest of the world.

The American public should demand that Congress listen and enact reasonable improvements that strengthen gun control and reduce violence, such as reauthorizing the assault-weapon ban, closing the gun show loophole and incorporating mental-health criteria into existing law regarding who can and cannot own guns. The right to own firearms should be subject to reasonable regulations.

An updated assault-weapons ban — a bill to ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of military-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines — is sitting in the Senate ready for debate and a vote. Although that bill won’t stop every mass shooting, it will begin to remove those weapons of war from the streets.

Let us begin now to do right. As we have learned, politicians don’t change or fix things until their constituents demand it.

Ann Edwards, Leeds

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