'No one deserves to die over playing a video game'

This appeared in Tuesday's Washington Post.

"No one deserves to die over playing a video game, you know." That was the comment of one of the people who managed to escape from a gunman who shot up a gaming tournament in Jacksonville, Florida. The same thing also should be said about sitting in a classroom, praying in church, listening to country music, dancing at a nightclub, retrieving luggage, going to work.

Sadly, though, in the United States, these and other routines of everyday life carry the risk of tragedy from gun violence. And so, once again, the question must be posed of what it will take to get Congress to confront this problem.

Two people — Taylor Robertson, 27, and Eli Clayton, 22 — were shot and killed Sunday afternoon while participating in a tournament for competitive players of the football video game "Madden NFL 19." Nine other people were wounded by gunfire, and two people were injured while fleeing before the gunman killed himself.

A live stream of the tournament caught the horrifying moment when the shooting began. A red laser dot appeared on the chest of one of the players, the video of the players disappeared, and then came gunshots — at least 12 of them — and cries from panicked people.

"Never in a million years would I have thought I would get shot playing John Madden football," said Tony Montagnino, a father of two who was shot in the lower back. "It can happen anywhere."


As of Monday, there had been 234 other mass shootings in the United States so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more individuals, not including the shooter, are shot or killed in the same general time and location. This includes the rampage at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, that killed five people, the mass shooting at an arts festival in New Jersey in which 22 people were injured (and a gunman killed), the high school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, in which eight students and two teachers were killed, and the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that killed 17 people and injured another 17.

Americans are more likely to die from gun violence than many leading causes of death combined, and, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, are 25 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other high-income countries. What sets us apart is we have so many more guns and we make it so easy to get guns, including those designed for war.

Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., herself grievously wounded in a mass shooting in 2011, rightly pointed out Sunday that "We do not have to accept these horrific acts of violence as routine." There are common-sense steps that can and should be taken, such as muscular background checks, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and keeping guns away from domestic abusers. Much to its discredit, Congress has failed to act. Voters need to remember that when they go to the polls in November. 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.


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