As people in Alabama were offering up thoughts and prayers to the victims of another mass shooting, this time in Virginia Beach, the CDC released a report showing Alabama ranked second highest in the nation for gun deaths. Tragically, the ever-increasing body count won’t make much of a difference in Alabama. The Republican party has whole-heartedly embraced Second Amendment extremists and refuses to consider any gun control legislation.

Instead, Alabama Republicans continue to float bills for less gun ownership accountability and believe that increasing the proliferation of firearms will somehow curb growing gun violence. It’s an absurd stance that defies logic, but it’s glistening, bloody red meat to a political base that believes it’s a prized centerpiece of conservative culture.

Liberals are not trying to ban all guns or destroy the Second Amendment. They also don’t believe that sensible gun control measures would wholly eliminate gun deaths or mass shootings. However, liberals do believe that certain restrictions would result in far fewer suicides, homicides, and senseless slaughter.

Unless you happen to be on an active battlefield, you don’t need a thirty-round magazine. Oh, yeah, unless you’re fighting tyranny. Get real.

Even common-sense measures like HB 265, which would allow authorities in narrow, specific circumstances to confiscate weaponry from people who pose a legitimate and imminent threat, are met with zealous, cult-like resistance from hardline conservatives. Conservatives continue to point their fingers at vague conceptual things like mental illness, rather than acknowledge concrete facts like there are too many assault-style weapons on the street. Ironically, they’re quick to get behind funding for arming teachers, yet loathe to put any money into expanding affordable mental health care.

We need more guns in schools, like submarines need more screen doors.

In Alabama, we continue to pretend that any regulation is an effort to ban all guns. That’s blatantly false. The point of the CDC report wasn’t to take a political side or to be a talking point to eliminate the Second Amendment. The point was to show the correlation between large numbers of gun deaths with large amounts of gun ownership. From that correlation, it makes sense to question whether certain people should be allowed to own guns and what types of weapons should be available to people. It also opens questions as to what should be considered responsible gun ownership. How should guns be stored with children in a home? Where and when should background checks take place? How many rounds should be in a magazine for a semi-automatic weapon? How many guns should a person be allowed to own?

How many people in Alabama need to die before we have a real debate about these issues? Right now, Republicans won’t even acknowledge the problem, much less discuss it. The only answer they seem to proffer is to have more guns in more places. They also say they don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about gun control in the wake of tragedies like Virginia Beach. Unfortunately, these tragedies are occurring with such frequency now, that we have no choice but to do something immediately before the next shooting happens in a few days or weeks.

The problem of gun violence isn’t going away, and it won’t be solved by putting more guns on the streets. This problem can be solved, but only if partisans relinquish extreme ideological stances and rhetoric. First, there must be a consensus that being second in the nation for gun deaths is not a badge of honor, it’s a disgrace. Second, it’s incumbent on us find ways to protect constitutional rights while imposing effective regulations and safeguards. This can be done if we commit to honest and evidence-based dialogue.

Let’s have a real discussion and let’s stop reasonable bills from getting shot down in committees. Alabamians shouldn’t have to die because spineless politicians refuse to stand up to the gun lobby.

Clete Wetli
Clete Wetli is former Chair of the Madison County Democrats and a liberal political activist.