The Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) estimate that there are more than 300 million guns in America in 2016!
There are more guns than adult Americans who can use them!
I did a little research.
I was concerned enough before I found the next statistic: Those guns are concentrated in only about 1/3 of American households.
Some of these guns are family mementos passed down through generations – from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I and II and other historic events.
Others belong to hobbyists — people who hunt for deer or quail in the wild or who enjoy target shooting. Target shooting is an Olympics sport.
Others have guns because they believe they need them for self-defense.
The Predictable Gun Rights Hysteria
Annual gun purchases grew more than 10 fold between 2000 and 2010 and have continued to spike during every gun-related tragedy of the last 10 years.
By now it’s a predictable process.
- Breaking News: Tragic, multiple victim shooting
- Public figures stampede to the cameras and microphones to proclaim their shock and sorrow amid public mourning
- Media and some Democrats demand more Congressional action to strengthen gun controls and gun related background checks
- Republicans and some Democrats push back urging better enforcement of existing laws
- National Rifle Association (NRA) launches lobbying and media campaign against stronger gun controls.
- Gun enthusiasts stock up on new weapons and ammunition they fear Congress may vote to restrict
- All legislation fails.
- Public attention wanes until the next time – and cycle begins AGAIN.
Much of this is due to a very effective campaign of TV spots by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Improved background checks and other reasonable gun control measures WON”T lead to the suspension or revocation of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution!
Amending the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority of both Houses of Congress PLUS a majority vote in three-fourths of the state legislatures. It is supposed to be hard but in this instance — impossible.
None of the gun debate is about your safety or protecting your freedom — it’s about political capital – single issue voters and big donors!
The Dark Side of the Gun Debate
We react with understandable empathy, sorrow and fear to breaking news of a mass shooting.
Fifty happy Saturday night partiers killed in Orlando. Horrific – yes!
Five police officers assassinated in Dallas by one unstable man with a semi-automatic weapon. Unimaginable, heartbreaking – yes.
But it turns out to be equal to just two percent of the total incidents of gun violence in 2015!
30,000 Americans died as result of gunfire every year in the last decade.
From 9/11/2001 to the end of 2015 3380 Americans have died as the result of terrorist attacks on the ‘homeland.
Nearly 7000 died in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.
You can excoriate either (or both) Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama for those numbers, but they pale in comparison to the 156,000 Americans murdered by guns on the streets and in the houses of America during the same time period or the 250,000 gun related suicides.
Stop the Politicking and Starting the Fixing!
Focusing on stopping mass shootings misses the point. Too many people are killed by guns in America.
Chicago, alone, experienced 463 homicides by gun in 2015 and 300 more gun-related deaths in the first half of 2016 despite tough Illinois gun laws.
It is time for Republicans and Democrats, alike, to face facts. Death by bullet is an epidemic in the United States!
We need to move past partisanship and develop a new bi-partisan national strategy to combat gun violence!
- Change the tone and substance of the conversation – DIAL DOWN THE RHETORIC!
- Reduce the total number of guns in circulation by conversation rather than coercion.
- Improve gun safety through improved training and licensing.
- Provide role models and viable legitimate career paths for inner city youth – TAKE BACK THE STREETS!
- Remove the stigma related to mental health treatment.
There is little difference between Black Lives Matters’ slogan “no justice, no peace” and the NRA’s “I am freedom’s safest place”.
Both reinforce the notion that we should fear one another.
Americans won’t put down their guns until they overcome their fear.
Overcoming fear by creating the necessary space for a civilized conversation begins with our politicians.
Can they put their personal ambition aside long enough to lead the nation?
The lasting memorial the Dallas tragedy requires that we put down our weapons — both rhetorical and real — and seek a unity of purpose stronger than our fears.
Graphic Courtesy of FrenchGardenHouse.Com