Only a week ago seven innocent people were murdered in West Texas by a madman with an assault-style weapon. Twenty-two were wounded during the massacre, including a child 17 months old. She was shot in the face.

A few weeks earlier, 22 people shopping in an El Paso Walmart were killed by yet another madman with yet another assault-style rifle. He said he wanted to kill Mexicans. Twenty-six people suffered life-altering injuries.

And all this follows the 2018 shooting rampage at a school in the Houston metropolitan area that left 10 dead, eight of them students. And that followed the 2017 Sutherland Springs church shooting in which 26 people died and another 20 were wounded near San Antonio.

In the 31 days of August, 53 people throughout our nation lost their lives in mass shootings, according to the Department of Justice. Given the run of deadly mass shootings in Texas, one can legitimately ask whether state and federal leaders have contributed to turning our state into a Lone Star shooting gallery with each of us a target.

Americans are fed up with elected officials who respond to these shootings by offering “thoughts and prayers.” Thoughts and prayers won’t bring back dead relatives or heal the wounded. Yet hours after the Permian Basin shooter joined his victims in death, the state of Texas welcomed new laws further loosening gun restrictions. Right. These laws went into effect before the dead of West Texas were even cold.

Polls tell us seven in 10 Americans support a ban on assault-style, semi-automatic weapons. They realize these have no place in the hands of citizens who are not members of our military. They realize these are not needed in defense of hearth and home.

The reason we do not have an assault-style weapons ban is that the leadership of the Republican Party and the president of the United States are far more interested in pleasing the deep-pocketed National Rifle Association than responding to the concerns of citizens. Data compiled by the Federal Election Commission show the NRA contributed $30 million toward the election of President Trump in 2016. It spent $54 million in the 2016 campaign with the overwhelming majority of cash going to Republican candidates who support the NRA and its whims.

Those who oppose an assault-style weapons ban point to the Second Amendment, which they interpret as giving all citizens a right to purchase and own such weaponry. Certainly the Founders of this country, sane as they were, did not intend the slaughter we face. Now is the time to ban all high-powered assault-style weapons. The vigilant among us believe we must act to stop more senseless murders. The sane among us do not believe that “thoughts and prayers” should suffice when qualities such as resolve, courage and common sense are part of the solution.

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Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Waco native, represents the 30th District of Texas in the House of Representatives. She began her career as the first female African-American chief psychiatric nurse at the VA Hospital in Dallas.

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