The horrific mass shooting in Atlanta March 16 terrorized many, especially Asian Americans and women. Little has been discussed about the weapon used in these mass killings — a handgun purchased hours before. According to the Gifford Law Center, Georgia is one of 43 states that don’t have a waiting period for purchase of a handgun. Waiting-period laws have been shown to reduce suicides and homicides, and provide time to complete an adequate background check, as well as delay impulsive buyers who want to use a gun to harm themselves or others.
It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that women who represented the intersectional identities of race, gender and socioeconomic status were targets of violence. And while anti-Asian racism was at the heart of this massacre, the free access to firearms is the guilty culprit that allows racism to inflict such deadly harm.
We need to rid our country of white supremacy and racism in its many forms, and we also need to use the legal tools we have to prevent such individuals from obtaining the means of mass murder. This past week’s tragedy in Boulder, Colorado, further emphasizes the urgency to restrict firearm access from those intent on killing others.
Frederick Peter Rivara, M.D., MPH, Seattle, and Anthony Lam Bui, M.D., MPH, Seattle