I don’t care if you are numb to this outrage. I don’t care if I’m numb to it. From where I sit, the carnage from gun violence in America, the continuing, ongoing, shocking deaths by gun, move to the head of the must-do list for this new administration.
We know that list is long, and every one of the top five issues feels like a hemorrhaging wound that needs to be stanched. Covid vaccine rollout? Migrants at the border? Stimulus for the economy? Crumbling bridges? Insurgents storming the halls of government?
Every problem demands action, but the national epidemic of gun violence speaks to a malignant cultural sickness that we need to treat now.
2020, the year of the pandemic, was the deadliest year for gun fatalities in decades, according to The Washington Post. That fact is especially interesting because the number of mass shootings (four or more people killed) decreased. Apparently, people were home more, so they just shot one another.
We are making up for the dip. Since January, we have suffered 147 mass shootings in America. Some 12,416 people were killed by guns over these four months. These are people shooting family and friends and strangers. These are suicides and armed robberies and kids picking up guns and shooting their brothers and sisters. These are drive-by hits and “accidental” killings.
No one wants to take away anyone’s legally owned guns. But we need better laws to keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals and unstable individuals. We need bans on military-style automatic weapons.
Last week, President Biden said he would take executive action to fight what he called “an epidemic and an international embarrassment of gun violence.” It is a modest initiative.
Golda Meir famously said that when Israel’s enemies loved their children more than they hated Israel, peace would be possible. The same could be said of Congress: When they love our children more than they hate standing up to the National Rifle Association, the slaughter will stop.
As I write, police are investigating a mass shooting at a FedEx outlet in Indiana. Within an hour of the murders, the usual post-massacre teams gathered at the scene: police, media by the truckload and a group that travels from killing spree to killing spree with counselors and money for funerals and warnings about post-murder scams.
The fact that we have such a team in America is both an indictment of our society and, obviously, a necessity. We all know the lingo of “lockdown” and “active shooter” and PTSD caused by shootings. Really, it is an abomination that we have become so proficient at handling the tragedies rather than preventing them.
Remember Sandy Hook? Dylan’s mom and Daniel’s dad write to me often. In truth, I dread reading their e-mails; their words darken the day. But how wrenching it must be to write the words. These parents are leaders of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, the group that advocates stricter gun-control laws. They are victims of the tragedy, both having lost first-graders in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Their work is pure and heroic — trying to find a slender thread of hope in the heap of terrible grief that has consumed their lives.
When 20 little kids were murdered in their classrooms and no serious gun control was enacted, it was more than disheartening. The legal gridlock effectively proved the intractable power of the National Rifle Association.
Schools installed locks and alarms, but this isn’t about inventing better security systems in our schools. If alligators were on the loose in schools, we wouldn’t give our kids alligator repellent. We would get rid of the alligators.
In an average year in this country, guns kill some 30,000 people. The information comes from the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit formed in 2013 to offer free online public access information about gun-related violence in the U.S.
We need legislators to write and pass laws that will end the slaughter.
Do members of Congress love their children? You bet they do. Do they love their jobs so much that they won’t stand up to the NRA? You bet they do. When they love their children, and America’s children, more than they love NRA money, we may finally see support for real gun-control laws.
Copyright 2021 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.