Finding our way back to safety

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Days after another horrific mass shooting in which 50 people, including the shooter, lost their lives and 53 more were injured, we still don’t know all the details. We don’t know what to say.

We have been visited by this nightmare too many times. We have heard the anguish. The disbelief. The arguments about how we might best protect our communities from even more senseless tragedy. Once again, we are left in a cold sweat, gasping for fresh air.

Most of us cannot fathom the soul-crushing loss experienced by the family and friends of the victims. We stand with fathers, mothers, siblings, spouses, children and other loved ones, and offer what little solace we can.

Our thoughts return to San Bernardino, Colorado Springs, Umpqua Community College, Chattanooga and Charleston — communities enduring the nightmare of mass shootings in the past year, alone. They turn to cities like Chicago, where bullets rain down on innocents with heart-wrenching regularity.

These aren’t natural disasters beyond our control, best addressed by crossed fingers or a prayer. These are unspeakable acts of violence committed by people in our own communities. It is a trend we must not continue to ignore or abide.

Addressing it will require deep discussions of the balance between safety and privacy. The balance between individual rights and the rights of everyone. Between our “freedom to,” and “freedom from.”

We remain concerned that government agencies appear unable to communicate critical security information, and that those who would terrorize innocent civilians have such easy access to deadly weapons. We are disheartened by broad-brush proposals, such as restricting entry into the U.S. based on religious belief, that don’t specifically target potential threats.

But above all else, we remind readers that words have consequences, especially in times such as these, and that the way back to safety can be found only through civil and open discussion.

In a democracy, it falls on all of us to give these questions measured consideration. To listen to those who disagree with us. To resist the scorched-earth rhetoric and absolutist positions that keep our society trapped in this nightmare. To insist that our leaders and public officials do the same.

• Gazette editorials reflect the consensus opinion of The Gazette Editorial Board. Share your comments and ideas with us: (319) 398-8469;

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