Alan Zendell, April 19, 2021
There’s been a rash of deaths associated with gun violence this year. I
divide them into categories: Individual/domestic incidents, mass shootings, and police-involved shootings. Our attention is sharply focused when something in the second or third category occurs, but for the sake of perspective, keep in mind that the numbers in the first group far outweigh the others. Mass shootings and police shootings horrify us, at least they used to before their frequency made us numb, but shootings that don’t involve mass casualties or police are the real horror story: accidents, domestic disagreements erupting into gunfire, premeditated murder, drive-by shootings, gang wars, bar fights that turn deadly, muggings – the list is endless.
GunViolenceArchive.org is a non-aligned, nonprofit
website that tracks mass shootings. If you think you’re on top of the numbers, click on the link and have a look. You’ll find charts and maps like the one below that describe every mass killing incident in the United States so far in 2021. You’ll be shocked.
In the 109 days between January 1
st and April 19 th of this year, 12,777 Americans died as a result of gun violence, an average of 117 per day, which exceeds the long term average of 106 I quoted in Americans’ Obsession With Guns. I was surprised to learn that of that number, 7,194, roughly four out of seven, were suicides. Some might argue that a person intent on killing himself would find a way regardless of whether he had a gun handy, but a loaded gun in a desk drawer is awfully enabling.
The other 5,583 were victims. Of that number, nearly a thousand were under 18 (416) or accidental (575). The concentration of dots on the map makes it clear that we’re not talking about hunting accidents – the dots are concentrated around population centers; most deaths due to gun violence occur in or near cities. The conventional wisdom that people in rural areas who own guns generally use them responsibly is thus supported by these data. NRA spokespeople and the Congressional representatives they “own” like to blame cities for the gun violence problem, citing places like Washington, DC and Chicago, both of which have very tough gun control laws. They argue, therefore, that gun control laws don’t work, but don’t buy it. Most of the guns used in crimes in Washington, for example, are purchased in neighboring states like Virginia, which is one of the easiest places in the country to buy one.
What are we to do? Do we keep sending our children to school every day knowing that theirs may be the next one to be locked down because of an active shooter? Do we stop going to events in urban areas that attract crazy people with guns looking for soft targets? And what about people living in cities who kiss their kids good night, not realizing that a gun battle is about to erupt outside their windows between rival drug dealers firing bullets that can easily
pierce the walls of their children’s bedrooms?
As popular pressure mounts for lawmakers to act to curb the number of guns and assure that mentally ill people or criminals can’t access them, we also have to deal with the civil war within the Republican Party. The supporters of Donald Trump march in lockstep to protect gun rights. Any attempts to pass responsible constraints, even those supported by three out of every five
Americans meets with knee-jerk rejection. We can no longer blame the NRA, which is drowning in its own legal and financial problems and not nearly the political force it was in previous years. The Alt-Right and other Trumpers say they’ll fight to the death to protect their Second Amendment rights, no matter that they have no understanding of why the Amendment was added to the Constitution or how it was intended to be applied.
Our entire political rhetoric has become so twisted and convoluted, we’re losing sight of reality. Our friends and children are being killed every day while we argue pointlessly over things that are entirely obvious. Guns cannot be allowed to proliferate without restriction any longer, and we are well past the time when it may be necessary to confiscate many that are already in the wrong hands. As I’ve said before, when our elected representatives are clearly
marching to the wrong drummer, it’s up to us, the voters, the court of last resort, to set things right.
We’ve seen a number of grass roots movements spring up in the past few years, many of which, like defunding the police, are seriously misguided. How about a movement that says, “If you don’t vote for gun control in this Congress, you will be voted out of the next one?” It’s really just that simple.