As a retired teacher, parent and grandparent, I have heartfelt empathy for the unimaginable pain that the Parkland, Florida, community has experienced. I remember the fear of children when we were practicing for this type of emergency. That was bad enough. This is unthinkable.

I am glad the president and many Republicans are talking about mental health care. This is an important issue, but it is not the reason that, among countries with more than 10 million people, we are one of the top two in the world for gun massacres. That would be Yemen and us, according to a University of Alabama study.

Why does the U.S. have so much more gun violence than the rest of the world? Do we have more bad people? Do we have more mentally ill people? Do we not take care of our mentally ill as well as every other country in the world? Do we play more violent video games?

No, studies show none of those things correlate. Only one fact correlates with the gun violence: gun ownership and gun access. We are 4.4 percent of the world population and we own 42 percent of the world’s guns, that same study has found. And, of course not only gun access but also semi-automatic weapon access.

Our government can express all the beautiful sentiments in the world for the people of Florida. It is not enough. We want real change that will keep guns and automatic weapons away from children, the mentally ill, criminals and people who make threats online. It should be harder to get weapons than it currently is in our country. It is way too easy.

Sadly, we cannot end this violence, but we can at least not have the worst record in the world. We are a nation of good people and enough is enough. We must act now.

Valerie Razsa


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