Opinion: Latinos May Lead the Way to Gun Control in the Future

Raul A. Reyes, NBC Latino, July 22, 2012

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It is a ritual scenario of grieving.  Columbine.  Virginia Tech.  Ft. Hood.  Tucson.  And now Aurora, Colorado, where 12 died and 58 were injured at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight.”

The next part of this pattern is the response from our leaders.  Initially, politicians resist politicizing a tragedy.  Then they issue a noncommittal statement of sympathy, because they are either beholden to or cowed by the National Rifle Association.  And so our country will eventually move on and begin to heal… until the next mass shooting.

This continuing leadership void is grossly irresponsible.  For too long, our national politicians have avoided any substantive discussion of gun control.  New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg got it right when he declared, “Soothing words are nice, but it’s time the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about it, because it’s obviously a problem for the country.”

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While our political leaders worry about getting on the wrong side of gun control debate, Latinos are very progressive on the issue.  An April report by the Pew Center found that Latinos are more likely to favor strict gun control laws that either whites or African-Americans.  Similarly, a 2011 poll done by the bipartisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition found that 86 percent of Hispanic voters support requiring background checks on all gun sales.  Sixty-nine percent believe the laws governing the sale of guns should be stronger.  Perhaps in the future, as our numbers continue to grow, Hispanics will demand laws to limit the possibility of senseless gun violence.

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Right now, Americans must call upon Congress and our candidates to fully discuss gun control.  A national conversation about the role of guns in our society is overdue.  If we don’t have it now, we are doomed to slip back into the cycle of tragedy, shock, grief, and moving on.  And that would be the most pointless, senseless outcome of all.

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