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Not free of fearing violence

| Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, 5:45 p.m.
Stephen Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.
Stephen Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.

Last month, a 2-year-old girl was struck in the forehead by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium. The ball was going 105 mph when it left the bat, and the imprint of the stitching was still visible on her head days later.

Plainly, her injuries were severe.

The crowd was stunned, and some ballplayers were in tears.

She was carried out of the stadium in her grandfather's arms and rushed to a hospital, where she was treated for broken bones and internal bleeding.

The public debate began immediately.

There had been other foul-ball injuries in other ballparks, and some teams had already expanded the netting along the baselines to better protect fans. The Yankees had balked, as had other teams, citing concerns of high-paying fans, who prefer unobstructed views.

But one little girl changed everything.

The Yankees soon announced they would expand their netting, and other teams joined them. It was the right decision: decent and compassionate, made after argument in the public arena, while the horror of the incident was fresh.

As the little girl was recovering, her father told The New York Times, “It's a game. It's like taking your kids to the mall or the amusement park or the zoo. It shouldn't be a place where you could die, and it doesn't have to be.”

Last week in Las Vegas, one madman with an arsenal killed at least 59 and injured more than 500 concertgoers at an outdoor music festival. That, too, should not be a place where you could die, but it is now.

We have been dying in droves at concerts, dance clubs, churches, on college campuses, at high schools and elementary schools.

Meanwhile, Congress has done nothing to expand the protective netting that could save us. Surely, it is a complicated issue, but there is some agreement that a combination of mental-health treatment and sensible gun reform could help.

Instead, Republicans still want to repeal ObamaCare, along with mental-health coverage for up to 30 million Americans.

And last week, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, recognizing the worst political timing ever, pulled a bill that would have made it easier for killers to use silencers, making them harder to catch.

These members of Congress do not intend to enable these killers, but they are doing just that.

They refuse to discuss reform in the wake of a slaughter. And later, when the horror is no longer fresh, they never discuss it.

Some politicians hide behind the Second Amendment and claim that any conditions on gun ownership violate our Founders' intent. But that requires a belief that machine guns and muskets are lethal equivalents.

Others, who oppose reform, claim these mass killings are the price of freedom.

If that is their idea of freedom, they can have it, but it does not work for the rest of us.

We are not free.

We are not free to attend a concert, see a movie or send our kids to school without a constant fear of violence.

And the first American promise of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” is slipping away.

Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer (joemistick.com).

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