We post photos of ourselves holding signs.
But there is always one more.
One more… person is killed with a gun.
One more… person kills himself with a gun.
And another, and another, and another…
- Every hour, someone dies by gunfire.
- Every day, dozens of people die by gunfire.
- Every week, hundreds of people die by gunfire.
- Every month, thousands of people die by gunfire.
- Every year, tens of thousands of people die by gunfire.
- Every decade, hundreds of thousands of people die by gunfire.
In the last 50 years, more Americans have been killed with guns than have died in all of the wars in this country’s 238-year history – going back to the Revolution.
When President Obama went to Newtown to grieve with the families and their shattered community, he spoke to a nation that was badly shaken by the horror of what had happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School:
We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.
We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.
But, eighteen months later… We do tolerate it. These tragedies have not ended. We have not changed. And we have not done any better. Since the massacre at Sandy Hook, more than forty thousand Americans have died by gunfire.
Even as I write this, I cannot fathom the scale of the slaughter. It is more than 12 times the number of people that were killed on 9/11 – another unimaginable crime. That comparison doesn’t really help us to understand the loss. But it is impossible to ignore the massive disparity in our responses to these threats. John Oliver nailed it:
Consider our government’s response to the 9/11 attacks. The Bush Administration, with the blessing of Congress:
(1) completely reorganized our law enforcement and intelligence services into the massive new Department of Homeland Security…
(2) launched not one but two wars…
(3) brought the United States into the company of nations which torture and detain prisoners indefinitely, no criminal charges, no trial by any court – in direct violation of international law, the Geneva Accords and the U.S. Constitution…
(4) added, by most accounts, more than $3 trillion to the national debt…
(5) and we have only recently learned the shocking extent to which Americans’ constitutional rights have been annulled with virtually unchecked domestic spying by NSA.
Now, consider our government’s response to the horrific toll gun violence has taken in this country in the 15 years since the Columbine massacre in 1999:
(1) The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, including the Federal Assault Weapons Ban on semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines, was allowed to expire by Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress in 2004…
So: a sweeping and unprecedented series of government actions initiated by Bush and continued in large part by Obama – including two wars raging over a decade – in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 people. But in the 15 years since Columbine the federal government has allowed one major gun control law to expire and it has enacted no new gun regulations – in spite of overwhelming public support since Newtown. During this time… more than 400,000 Americans have been killed by firearms.
I do not equate 9/11 and our epidemic of gun violence. But I do think it is appropriate and necessary to compare the astonishingly disproportionate responses by the federal government. Gun violence since Columbine has rained down more death on Americans than the 9/11 attacks happening every six weeks! And we have done nothing to protect ourselves or our children.
Are we better than this? So far, no! Why not? The @Mayors and the @Moms and now @Everytown have had the best of intentions but almost zero impact. What can we do? I leave you with this opinion piece by Scott Martelle in the Los Angeles Times. (click on the graphic for link to the LA Times)
The End (so far)