Republicans, time to “put up or shut up”. Are you serious about preventing mass shootings? Are you serious about mental health as the true cause? If so, are you willing to spend money (without increasing deficits) to address that issue? Democrats, can you look beyond gun laws as the only solution – and avoid advocating radical proposals (like confiscating legally-purchased weapons)? Can you instead support a bipartisan solution that might actually WORK? Final question: do you both have enough courage to DO something together – before mentally ill mass shooters kill HUNDREDS MORE innocent Americans?
In religious and in secular affairs, the more fervent beliefs attract followers. If you are a moderate in any respect – if you’re a moderate on abortion, if you’re a moderate on gun control, or if you’re a moderate in your religious faith – it doesn’t evolve into a crusade where you’re either right or wrong, good or bad, with us or against us.
– Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
Regarding guns, can Americans agree on anything?
Can we agree we live in an unprecedented era, with more mass shootings* in America than ever before?
Sadly, we have more mass shootings than any other country. Worldwide, nearly one-third of them between 1966 and 2012 occurred here. In 2015, we averaged one PER DAY. So far this year, we’ve suffered over 150 of them.
Can we agree Americans have plenty of guns? With 4% of the world’s population, our civilians own 40% of the world’s firearms, the highest per-capita gun ownership rate. If the “more-guns-mean-more-safety” argument were true, we’d have the safest country in the world. Doesn’t feel that way, though, does it?
Can we agree students of all ages (and their parents), and teachers and staff who serve them, should NOT have to fear for their lives in our schools? Unfortunately, they must. Since the Columbine High School massacre in CO (1999; 13 killed) shocked America, researchers estimate more than 226,000 students in 233 schools have been impacted by school shootings, with at least 141 dead and 284 wounded.
Can we agree worshipers in churches, synagogues, and mosques should NOT need to fear for their lives, either, while gathering to pray in peace? But they do. Recent carnage at our houses of worship include the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX (2017; 26 killed), Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC (2015; 9 killed), and Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA (2018; 11 killed).
Can we agree people should feel safe at work while making a living? Not anymore. Workplace shootings are so common we barely notice them, except the worst, like Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. (2013; 12 killed) and Virginia Beach municipal building (2019; 12 killed) bloodbaths.
Can we agree people should be able to temporarily escape their worries (including news of mass shootings), by going to a movie? Not since the Aurora Theater butchery in CO (2012; 12 killed).
Or enjoy a night out at a concert or nightclub, without worrying it could be their last? Not since the Las Vegas concert (2017; 58 killed, 851 wounded) and Orlando bar (2016; 59 killed) slaughters.
Can we agree no place in America feels totally safe anymore? That what we’ve been doing to prevent gun violence isn’t working – and we need to do SOMETHING different?
We’ll explore those subjects in future posts; stay tuned. And wherever you go, remember the old frontier advice (appropriate today, since we’ve returned to our Wild West mentality): “watch your backside”.
* Common definition of mass shooting: an act of violence (excluding gang shootings, domestic violence, or terrorist acts sponsored by an organization) in which a shooter kills at least four victims.