The tragic shooting in Colorado late last night at once reveals two public policy needs. The first is obvious: gun control and the control of ammunition. The shooter got literally hundreds of rounds off the Internet, including for his assault rifle. The NRA has dominated political decisionmaking on this and other issues for far too long.
But the second public policy need is revealed by the positive outcome of this tragic event: the effective response by police, EMTs and other public agencies. Police were so swift in responding that they caught the alleged shooter as he was returning to his car--judging from the extent of his armory and his garb, it seems likely he was about to drive to his next target location.
But there are many places in America right now where the police and other agencies are so understaffed that response like this is unlikely. All kinds of situations that require the quick and effective intervention of public agencies--including public health agencies--are happening with increasing frequency now, and will happen on even greater scales in the future as the climate crisis causes more emergencies.
Right now the Republican party and the Republican candidate for President are willing and eager to sacrifice the public good and the training, equiping and simply the livelihoods of public servants on the front line of trouble, all to further line the pockets of people who have more money already, and a greater percentage of shared resources, than makes any sense. The Republicans in Congress have blocked any attempt to help the states keep their public employees, and those public employees--teachers, police, fire, emergency medical, etc.--are being fired by droves. It's there in every monthly unemployment report. It's hurting our national economy, and it's hurting communities. It's scandalous. And it will only get worse if Romney and Republicans are elected to federal and state office.
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