It has been over five-and-a-half years since a mass shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, caused me to write:
. . . the terrible truth is that we only pay attention when our domestic murders come in multiples.
Gun violence is more than an everyday occurrence in this country, it is an hourly one. Correction: it is a quarter-hourly one. There are, roughly, 12,000 gun murders a year in the United States (if you are looking for contrasts, contrast that with the average 350 gun murders that occur annually in Canada, Great Britain, and Australia combined). If you watch the local TV news in the US, then you likely bear some sort of witness to numerous individual gun murders every week.
But it is only when six or twelve or twenty-two or thirty-three are shot that most of us even look up, take pause, or stop to think at all about what guns do.
And what guns do is kill people.
I’m sure there is somebody out there right now that is raising a finger in protest. Wait, there’s sport. . . competition shooting. . . hunting! And to that person I say: Knock it off! AK-47’s and their clones are not prized by biathletes, 9 mm semi-automatics are not hunting weapons, and you don’t need an extended clip to bring down a sixteen-point buck. You can make your arguments about self-defense and Second Amendment rights (though most of them would be wrong), but you cannot argue that it is either a right or a necessity to own the kinds of weapons that felled those at Columbine, or West Nickel Mines, or the unfortunate students and faculty at Virginia Tech.
And now we can add Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut to that list–a list that had already grown much, much longer since 2007.
I wrote several posts around the time of the VaTech shootings–and several others about sadly similar events over the years–and went back to read them while thinking I would scrawl something today about the massacre in Connecticut. But you know what? I’m not sure I see the point of a new story–not when almost every single word I wrote back then is just as applicable now.
Sure, some of the names have changed. We have a different president; one who arguably struck the right emotional tone as he joined the country in mourning the senseless deaths of 20 young children. But a little while before Barack Obama spoke to the nation, his press secretary, Jay Carney, took to the White House briefing room to say that today was not the day to address the role that gun laws could play in preventing more mass shootings.
So, if you have the time, take a look at part of what was said some 17 domestic gun massacres ago:
Then, maybe ask, who do we have in elected government, or in a visible place in our country or our communities, who will rise up and say to Mr. Carney, or to the press corps, or to the president, “How about now? Can we talk about it now?”
I’ll leave you with the questions I asked back in 2007–and have asked so many times since–in an attempt to actually move this discussion beyond pearl-clutching and platitudes:
To those that love their guns. . .
Please don’t resort to screaming about how I want to take away your guns. . . I don’t. Just tell me why you oppose:
Better background checks,
Additional licensing procedures for concealed weapons,
Mandatory waiting periods,
Restrictions on assault-style weapons, Saturday night specials, and extended clips,
Mandatory safety training and periodic recertification,
Closing so-called gun-show loopholes,
Legal liability for gun manufacturers commensurate with other consumer product liability,
And limits on the number of guns and rounds of ammo you can purchase at any given time and over the course of a year.
If you can address those points, we can have a discussion. . . or you can just scream that I want to take away your gun again if that makes you feel better.
And one more thought–something I tweeted earlier. Today, before the news of the Connecticut shooting broke, I heard a story about a man who went on a violent rampage at a school in China. He was armed with a knife. The result: 22 wounded; 0 dead.
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