Reader says U.S. needs to respond to mass shootings
Nearly three years have passed since 26 innocent people, 20 of them young children, were killed on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut. It seems like a good time to reflect on the last three years to see if such violence is still prevalent. Sad to say, it still is.
Because our Congress expressly prohibited the Center for Disease Control from studying gun violence as a public health problem, there is no official database from which to glean the numbers. However, I found some studies by reputable sources and can make some observations. The Mass Shooting Tracker has tracked shootings since December 2013 in which four or more people were shot.
Since Sandy Hook, there have been 1,044 mass shooting incidents in which 1,327 people were killed and 3,784 were wounded Those 348 mass shootings per year amounts to a mass incident daily except for four days a year. Overall gun deaths each year average over 32,000, about 2/3 being suicides and 1/3 being homicides.
The U.S. has many more gun deaths than other developed countries: in U.N. data from 2012, the U.S. had 29.7 gun deaths per 1 million people, Switzerland had 7.7, Canada had 5.1, and Germany 1.9. Why so out of balance?
The U.S. has only 4.4 percent of the global population, yet we have 42 percent of civilian-owned guns. Criminal justice experts say that we have more guns available than most of the world because of cultural and policy decisions.
According to an Oct. 2 article in New York magazine, after a similar mass shooting incident in Great Britain and another in Australia, both countries developed and passed laws that dramatically reduced mass shootings. In Australia, the gun homicide rate dropped by over half and the gun suicide rate dropped by 65 percent. In all England and Wales in 2011, guns killed 59 people, in Washington, D.C. alone, there were 77 gun homicides.
Isn’t it time for some common sense regulation of gun ownership? We’re not constitutional scholars and we know the Second Amendment protects the right to own a gun. But we are sure our forefathers who authored the Second Amendment did not mean the right to own today’s military assault weapons nor the rapid-fire magazines available.
Why is it possible that someone on the U.S. No-Fly list can buy an assault weapon? The Senate blocked a bill that would restrict someone on the No-Fly list from buying a gun last Thursday. They also blocked an attempt to increase background checks, which was one of the means that Australia used to markedly reduce the gun violence in that country.
Thirty years ago in Oak Park, a suburb just west of Chicago, Carol let her children walk the eight blocks to elementary school without any concern for their safety. Parents no longer have that sense of security. Do we want a nation where parents are afraid to let their children walk to school alone, even in the suburbs?
It’s time to let your senators and representatives know that you want policies and regulations that will reduce the gun violence in the U.S.