By now, most people are keenly aware of the disturbing news about three mass shootings in California in eight days that resulted in the loss of 18 lives. By Wednesday January 24, only 24 days into the new year, 39 mass shootings have occurred nationwide already.
What is wrong with Americans? Why is there such violence and carnage in this nation? These questions are, of course, rhetorical. I believe we already know the answer.
I cannot abide by the National Rifle Association’s argument that “Guns don’t kill people, People do”. I see this statement as a convenient cop-out.
I say this because Americans are no different than people all over the world, and yet in no other nation are civilians killing each other with such wanton abandon and reckless disregard for human life than American citizens.
What makes us different? This nation’s love affair with guns and the easy access we have to them.
Certainly, most gun owners are responsible but others are not. Americans act as if they need a gun like they do air to breathe, or water to drink, or food to eat, or shelter.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were just over 334 million Americans as of January 1, 2023. Yet the data show that as far back as 2017, there were already nearly 400 million guns in this country between the police, the military, and civilians. Surprisingly, more than 393 million of those 400 million guns (more than 98%) were in civilian hands. That is the equivalent of 120 firearms for every 100 Americans. No other country on earth comes close to this.
A PEW Research poll conducted in June 2021 found about four-in-ten adults in this country say they live in a household with a gun. This includes 30% who said they personally own one. Not surprisingly, the issue of personal protection topped the list of reasons why gun owners said they owned a firearm.
The PEW survey also found the share of Americans who say gun laws should be stricter has decreased from 60% in September 2019 to a low of 53% in 2021.
The combination of firearms and fear has created a nation of fools, so blinded by their obsession with gun ownership and their Constitutional right to bear arms it seems to supersede all else—even the safety and lives of our children.
In 2022, guns became the number one cause of death among children and adolescents in this country and yet, we as a nation remain “trapped in a ghoulish nightmare”, unwilling or unable to lay down our weapons to save the lives of our children. But, of course, we already knew this. It’s a lesson we learn with every shooting on a school campus, with every stray bullet that kills a child in Black and brown neighborhoods, with every child who plays with a gun his/her parents failed to lock away.
How many guns do American citizens need to feel safe? I don’t think there is any amount that will pacify a desire that appears insatiable.
And so, babies die, loved ones cry, gun manufacturers continue to make billions to buy politicians that we elect to do absolutely nothing at the worst and the bare minimum at best to stop the madness. And the cycle continues…
There are organizations across the country working for change on this issue. If you support their mission, get involved or make a donation to support their efforts. As former President Barack Obama once reminded us, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” We can create an America where everyone’s child can be safe from gun violence.
Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.
For a list of organizations working for gun violence prevention and victim support visit the Charity Navigator.