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Our view: A deadly 4th of July

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A Lake Forest, Ill., police officer walks down Central Ave in Highland Park, Ill., on Monday after a shooter fired on the northern suburb’s Fourth of July parade.

Following the Fourth of July holiday, we can now add community parades to the list.

You know: the list of venues in which we have to fear for our lives.

Schools; supermarkets; churches and synagogues; movie theaters; concert arenas; nightclubs; restaurants; parks and malls. All staging platforms for mass shootings.

The latest national tragedy occurred Monday in a well-to-do neighborhood in Highland Park, Ill., during an Independence Day parade. A gunman climbed a ladder in an alley to the rooftop of a business along the parade route. From there, he went on a killing spree that left seven people dead, 30 wounded and hundreds running for their lives. They’ve now had that quintessential American experience of shaking with fear as the sound of gunfire fills the air and blood fills the streets.

“ was just this sea of panic, and people just falling and falling,” Zoe Pawelczak, a parade spectator, told CNN. “It looked like a battle zone.”

A “person of interest” was taken into police custody a few hours after the shooting. Online sleuths took immediate action in search of identity, ideology, motive — all the talking points that are used to try to peg and minimize the perpetrator and ignore the most pertinent fact: He easily acquired a deadly weapon and used it against innocent people.

As we go to press, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has not yet blamed the tragedy on loose, unguarded ladders. He’s not yet suggested that we need to harden the parade routes, with one entrance and one exit.

Forgive the snark, but as we see gun slaughter after gun slaughter, we’re a little tired of the way some Republican legislators rush to deflect attention from the “tool” used over and over again to kill massed groups of Americans, including children — blaming the tragedy on everything from mental illness (plenty of mentally ill people never hurt anyone) to unlocked doors.

It’s the guns. It’s the guns. It’s the easy access to guns.

And the defensive talking points do nothing but aid the next killer.

“You shouldn’t punish legal gun owners.”

The killers are usually legal gun owners — until suddenly they’re not.

“It’s Hollywood violence and video games.”

Which doesn’t create mass killers in other countries that love Hollywood and video games but have more stringent gun controls.

“It takes a good guy with a gun …”

Police were on the scene in force in Highland Park, just as they were in Uvalde, Texas.

“It’s because people are evil.”

Then make it harder for them to get their hands on guns.

“Pro-life” is an empty slogan when its proponents are not willing to make the tiniest sacrifice to save lives.

The latest senseless slaughter follows a development we hoped — and still hope — might lead to change: A bipartisan bill passed by the Senate and signed by President Biden last month to address gun safety — the most significant such bill to be passed in the last 30 years.

The bill provides $15 billion in new federal funding for mental-health programs and school security upgrades — as well as $750 million in new federal funding over five years to help states implement “red-flag” laws.

That’s something. It’s likely to save lives.

But it’s not enough. It included no ban on semi-automatic weapons; no ban on high-capacity magazines; no minimum 21-year-old age requirement to buy AR-15-style rifles; no universal background checks.

The bill passed the Senate 65 to 33, and while it may seem significant that 15 Republicans voted in its favor, their cooperation is mitigated by the fact that 13 of them are not running for reelection. They don’t have to worry about the NRA promoting a primary opponent; their lame duck status left them free to act from conscience.

Most other Republican legislators still have to worry about opposition from their own party for simply trying to do something.

Flamethrower Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, bolstered by her Freedom Caucus allies, called the 15 “sellouts” for voting for a bill that could boost President Biden’s accomplishments.

Because denying Biden a “win” is more important to them than possibly saving lives.

(Greene, for some sick reason, was also quick on Tuesday to post an altered photograph of the alleged parade shooter holding a Bible, along with some unfounded conspiracy theories.)

As long as politics are more important than people, we’re going to be stuck here, mourning senseless deaths, over and over.

As parents cry and community leaders beg for assistance, legislative solutions will continue to be scarce and weak. No serious effort to stop gun violence will be implemented until there are solid Democratic Party majorities in our legislative bodies to override Republican reluctance.

The date and setting of this latest slaughter should resonate with all reasonable people. If we can’t even celebrate freedom without the fear of being murdered in the streets, then we’re not free.


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