Dear KY Republican supermajority: Please stop talking and do something. Skip to content

Dear KY Republican supermajority: Please stop talking and do something.

More guns is not the solution to gun violence.

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On June 8, I was sitting in the audience during an Interim Judiciary Committee meeting, listening to arguments for a proposed bill titled “Controlled Substance and Homicide,” sponsored by Rep. Deanna Frazier Gordon (R-81 Madison) and Rep. John Blanton (R-92 Knott/Magoffin/Pike).

During questioning of witnesses, Rep. Kevin Bratcher (R-29 Jefferson) recalled being on this committee when Sen. Webb was a freshman around 1998 or 1999 and said Oxycontin was killing her district. “We’ve been talking about this stuff for 23 years at least,” Bratcher said, “and here we are again, and guys come in and they say this is the tools we need, and it’s just like a revolving cycle of what needs to be done…”

When he asked if time and money are being wasted on drug control and enforcement, Major Josh Hale of the Richmond Police Department responded, in part, “Sir, I don’t think we are ever going to be wasting time if we are talking about victims and families …. The family members did not choose to have their family member pass away. So while we are still, while we may be losing victims, the family members didn’t choose this. So as long as we are fighting this, we are fighting for the victims’ families. So no, I do not believe we are wasting the time nor the money.”

While this proposed bill addressed drug overdoses, it was obvious that this same discussion, point by point, could be applied to gun violence deaths.

In an average year, 715 Kentuckians are killed with a gun, 68% of which are suicides. Do these victims and their families not deserve the same investment of time and resources described so compassionately by Major Hale? Where are the proposed bills? Where is effort to stem gun violence?

In what felt dystopian based on the number of violent deaths and the lifelong trauma carried by gun violence survivors, witnesses, families, first responders, medical personnel, and communities, this year’s Republican supermajority not only did not address Kentucky gun deaths but entertained bills encouraging more guns and fewer laws: college campus conceal/carry (which, thankfully, did not make it out of committee) and Second Amendment Sanctuary status (which passed).

Consider the cognitive dissonance between drug deaths and gun deaths and you witness first hand Republicans repeatedly choosing their coveted NRA A-rating over the lives they were elected to protect. It turns the stomach.

I was thinking about Rep. Bratcher’s reference to 1999 this week as I read Dave Cullen’s “Columbine,” a book many consider the primary factual account of the April 20, 1999 mass shooting where, in less than 20 minutes, two teenaged boys shot 12 students and a teacher to death and wounded 21 others. Following are just a few sentences from the chapter titled “Female Down.” Read this and remember that these are all kids.

Lance tried to catch Danny, but realized he had been hit, too, multiple times, in the chest, leg, knee, and foot.

Danny’s face hit the sidewalk. Death was almost instantaneous. …

Eric turned again and spotted five kids under a clump of pines in the grass. He fired, and the kids took off running. One fell. He played dead, too. Another took a hit but kept on running. The last three got away clean.

The shooters kept moving. Lance regained consciousness. He felt someone hovering above him. He reached up toward the guy, tugged on his pant leg, and cried for help.

“Sure, I’ll help,” the gunman said.

The wait seemed like forever to Lance. He described the next event as a sonic blast that twisted his face apart. He watched chunks of it fly away. Breaths came rapidly: air in, blood out. He faded out again.

That was 24 years ago. What have we done to stop this nightmare from recurring — whether in mental health or gun laws — in the last quarter century?

According to data compiled by The Washington Post, “There were more school shootings in 2022 — 46 — than in any year since at least 1999. Beyond the dead and wounded, children who witness the violence or cower behind locked doors to hide from it can be profoundly traumatized.”

In 2019, the Northern Kentucky Tribune reported, “Kentucky tops New York City when it comes to gun fatalities, according to Mark Bryant, a Harlan County native and Lexington resident who leads the Gun Violence Archive.”

The answer to drug overdose deaths is not more drugs, just as the answer to gun violence deaths is not more guns.

We must demand more from our elected officials and ask how pandering to Second Amendment fanatics and bragging about an A-rating from the NRA has saved lives. To quote Rep. Bratcher on drugs, “We’ve been talking about this stuff for 23 years at least, and here we are again.”

Dear Kentucky Republican Supermajority: Please stop talking and do something.

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Teri Carter

Teri Carter writes about rural Kentucky politics for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Washington Post, and The Daily Yonder. She lives in Anderson County.

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The Daily Wrap for Monday, 5/20

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