Business leaders ‘can’t become numb’ to mass shootings: Commerce secretary

·3 min read

The killing of at least 19 children and two adults in Texas is both tragic and unsurprising.

Tuesday’s massacre at an elementary school in the town of Uvalde came just 10 days after another mass shooting at a supermarket in New York and a few months short of 10 years since 20 young children and seven adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

In a new conversation Wednesday, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo had a message for business leaders and anyone else who could potentially influence the ongoing debate: “We can't become numb to it.”

She added, during a conversation Wednesday with Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer from the World Economic Forum in Davos, that “whether you're a business leader, a governor, a mayor, a member of Congress, you better wake up today asking yourself, what can I do to bring this scourge to an end in America?”

People gather at Robb Elementary School , the scene of a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 25, 2022. REUTERS/Nuri Vallbona
People gathered Wednesday at Robb Elementary School, the scene of Tuesday's mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas (REUTERS/Nuri Vallbona)

Raimondo’s remarks came just hours after an 18-year-old shooter entered the elementary school full of second, third, and fourth graders. Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety told CNN that the shooter then barricaded himself in one classroom, killing at least 19 children and two teachers there.

The children were mostly around 10 years old and were slaughtered just days before their summer vacation was set to begin.

Several other children were injured in the shooting and remain hospitalized in the city, which sits about 83 miles west of San Antonio. The gunman was reportedly armed with multiple weapons and was killed at the scene.

'Why are we willing to live with this carnage?'

In Washington, observers say the prospects for any action to reform the nation’s gun laws are unlikely. President Joe Biden nevertheless called for new reforms in an address to the nation Tuesday night.

“Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?” he asked. “Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it and stand up to the [gun] lobbies?”

“There is a solution here — it's actually not that hard,” added Raimondo Wednesday, who served as governor of Rhode Island from 2015-2021. “Common sense gun bills could change this, and I did a lot of it when I was governor.”

On Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has taken steps to have votes in the coming days on two gun control bills related to background checks, but they are expected to fail in the face of Republican opposition. Any reform bill needs 10 Republicans to join Democrats on it and, so far, there has been little indication that the murders on Tuesday have changed the debate in the nation’s capitol.

“It could be your kids. It could be my kids, and we have the tools to solve it,” Raimondo says. “So I would say speak out advocate or if you're in a position to change the laws, go ahead and do the right thing.”

Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.

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