Mass shootings were rare in our country before 1963, when the AR-15 was first introduced. Since the mid-1960s, we’ve seen 150 mass shootings.

I expect we will always have guns in our society, but why do we need the guns that make it so easy to kill so many, so quickly? In 1986, Congress outlawed civilian possession of fully automatic guns without violating the Second Amendment. Semi-automatic guns, like the AR-15, should have been included in that ban. If they had, many parents across the country might still be watching their kids grow up. As the son of a police officer, I have also never understood how our government could stand by and let our nation’s first responders be subjected to such weapons.

Some blame our mass shootings on mental illness and not the guns, but the reason a deranged gunman might kill 30 people and not three lies solely with gun choices. Australian lawmakers in 1996 banned all semi-automatic guns from their country after their worst mass shooting. They have not had a single mass shooting in the 22 years since. Australia still has guns and still has people with mental illness, but those semi-automatic weapons are gone and so are mass shootings.

Congress needs to ban the ongoing sales of semi-automatic guns and high-capacity magazines; otherwise, we have little chance of slowing the rise of mass shootings across our society. We can no longer tolerate lawmakers who ignore our nation’s gun problem by hiding behind the Second Amendment and blocking lifesaving gun laws while earning themselves an A rating from the National Rifle Association. These lawmakers (state and federal) give a higher priority to their insidious fundraising than they do to the safety of our citizens. Our military protects us from rogue nations; who is protecting our kids sitting in a classroom?

The voters can and must resolve this.

Fred Egan

York Harbor