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Parkland: 17 Dead and Counting

In that Parkland, FL high school where at least 17 people died today, there is an eerie shrine, wrote The New York Times, with chairs upended, a computer screen shattered with bullet holes and floors stained with blood. It was the blood of students and teachers, the aftermath of the hateful act of a 19-year-old expelled former student.

For at least 17 families who lost loved ones, depending on whether more hospitalized victims succumb to their wounds, untold sadness reigns as plans must be made for funerals. A day that began filled with hope and for some kids budding young love -- Valentines Day -- ended with sadness, with tragedy and sorrow.

Of course the question now is why did the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, armed with a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle, decide to wade into that school and begin firing at anyone in his path. Certainly, authorities are now attempting to determine the answer.

But a much bigger question remains, the same one that's remained since such mass shootings began years ago, including in Sandy Hook Elementary School and Columbine. Why do we not act? Why do we not enact and enforce sensible laws that keep guns, especially weapons like the one Cruz used, out of the hands of potential shooters?

In South Carolina, where I now live, efforts are underway by some to convince the state legislature to close a background check loophole that currently allows people with criminal records and mental illness to purchase a handgun even before their background check is completed.

It is that loophole that is blamed for making it possible for Dylan Roof, the Charleston AME Church shooter, to kill nine parishioners, an act for which he now awaits execution. Such a loophole makes absolutely no sense. It must be closed.

Also in South Carolina gun rights advocates are pushing legislation to allow legal carrying of a firearm without the need for a concealed weapons permit. Under the bill, a permit would still be available to an individual wishing to take advantage of reciprocity agreements with other states. So here in our state, people could simply walk around, guns strapped to their belts at the ready.

Trump vows, over and over again, to defend the 2nd Amendment. And the National Rifle Association keeps buying off Congressmen and Senators and no doubt politicians in state after state, always warning that even the softest of restrictions would open the door to the feds walking in and confiscating your guns.

Until our representatives show some balls and stand up to these people, these weapons will remain available to people like Dylan Roof and Nikolas Cruz and shootings will continue. Children and teachers and kids on playgrounds and people shopping in malls will die. Families will be devastated. Politicians will wring their hands and send "thoughts and prayers" to the families of victims.

A lot of good that will do, especially if it's your son, your daughter, your husband, your wife whose life is snuffed out in an instant by some crazed shooter with a grudge.

Really, we just have to stand by and watch?

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