Rick Unklesbay

How many more? How many more shootings, how many more deaths, how many more flags at half staff, how many more surviving family members will grieve before we do something?

For the third time in just a year, I find myself writing after yet another mass shooting. How long will we permit this to go on?

One can be an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment yet still favor sensible laws regulating some aspects of firearms. In the span of 11 days we saw 11 lives taken by a man with an assault rifle at a place of worship in Pittsburgh and 12 more people murdered by a man with a handgun equipped with a high-capacity magazine at a college night out at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California.

The common thread in so many of these mass murders is the use of the AR-15 rifle and handguns with extended magazines.

Here in Tucson in 2011, such a handgun was used in the wounding of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others and the murders of six of our fellow citizens. Since then, despite multiple mass shootings, Congress has done very little to change our gun laws. In December of last year I traveled to Washington, D.C., on behalf of County Attorney Barbara LaWall, along with elected prosecutors from around the country.

For two days this group, Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, met with congressional offices explaining to elected officials how lax gun laws led to increased violence . These prosecutors, from Los Angeles to New York, both Republican and Democrat, tried to lend their expertise and voice and speak to ways of helping to fix the problem.

They told their stories of the tragedies in their own jurisdictions, the grief in their communities and how small changes in gun regulation could help avert more shootings.

Congress did nothing.

It’s going to take all of us contacting our representatives, urging them to take action.

Issues such as universal background checks, banning high-capacity magazines and bump stocks and bringing back the ban on assault rifles need to be addressed and debated. Congress won’t do it unless they know voters want action.

We need to act now, before we become immune to the effects of murder after murder. We can’t allow ourselves to think this problem is unsolvable. We can’t stand by while week after week more of our fellow citizens are gunned down.

We must act, and act now, by contacting your congressional representatives and demanding they take action. The alternative is too terrible to contemplate.

Rick Unklesbay is a prosecutor with the Pima County Attorney’s Office.