It just doesn’t end… another week, another mass shooting. According to the Gun Violence Archive there have been 54 violent acts where a gunman has killed four or more people, leaving a total of 456 people dead. While it seems American’s have become so inured to the violence and its frequency that little political action is expected to follow, I can’t help but feel it is taking a toll on anyone who has even a smidgen of empathy for their fellow human beings. After the deaths of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14th, will something happen to confront the growing epidemic of gun violence in America?
March 8, 2018
Father of Parkland victim slams threatening videos named things like a “Call to Arms” posted by the NRA saying:
“If this was put out by a terrorist organization, we would be raising the terror threat level in this country. Why are we letting this lobby have anything to do with DC? I don’t understand it!”
The AR-15 Weapon of Choice
In the debate over gun ownership and gun violence, the AR-15 is the pit bull of weapons. It is feared and condemned as intrinsically vicious and dangerous by critics and beloved and valued as a loyal defender of home and family by many gun owners. The NRA and other gun groups call the AR-15 a “modern sporting rifle” despite its evolution from the military’s M-16 automatic rifle. (History of the M-16/Ar-15 from Gun Digest)
The trouble with the AR-15 is its modular design which allows it to be fairly easily modified to be fully automatic. Even in its generic form access to large magazines makes it a formidable weapon. Unfortunately the Clinton-eras ban on specific models or features of assault weapons had little to no discernible impact on gun deaths. What the law did right was the now defunct ban on large-capacity magazines, which contain 10 or more rounds. Unfortunately there are thousands of large magazines in circulation today. The magazine capacity limitation could, according to several studies,. reduce the number of gunshot victims up to 10%.
Tweaking assault style weapons just doesn’t make sense. The gains are minimal and the risks remain. According to one expert we would see a “drastic reduction in gun massacres” with the return of the 1994 federal assault weapons ban, said Louis Klarevas of the University of Massachusetts at Boston.
In a recent article for the Washington Post, Klarevas explained ho dramatic the ban was in reducing mass shooting or “massacres”.
For his 2016 book “Rampage Nation,” Klarevas collected data on every gun massacre — which he defines as six or more people shot and killed — for the 50 years before 2016. His aim was to see whether there was any change in the number of gun massacres while the 10-year federal ban on assault weapons was in place.
He calls the results “staggering.” Compared with the 10-year period before the ban, the number of gun massacres during the ban period fell by 37 percent, and the number of people dying from gun massacres fell by 43 percent. But after the ban lapsed in 2004, the numbers shot up again — an astonishing 183 percent increase in massacres and a 239 percent increase in massacre deaths.
Click to read the complete analysis in “It’s time to bring back the assault weapons ban, gun violence experts say.”
What is clear to me from reading several analysis articles and studying data from the ATF, FBI, Stanford and Harvard is the dramatic increase in guns, specifically AR-15 type weapons, has a correlation to more mass shootings. And in general more weapons in homes has also lead to an increase in suicides with firearms.
The bottom line is – the numbers don’t lie.
Where Americans Agree
In an article in The Economist titled “American attitudes towards gun control” there seem to be far more areas of agreement than you’d expect. It seems only the NRA and radical 2nd Amendment activists are dug in against any improvements to this dire situation. But are the answers coming from the Trump administration even close to what the American people say they support?
“Donald Trump suggested that America might begin arming some of its 3m teachers with handguns in an effort to protect their students. A day earlier he ordered his justice department to propose the regulation of bump stocks—attachments that enable legal semi-automatic firearms to shoot bullets at rates equal to those of illegal machine guns.
A survey by YouGov (shown below) asked a representative sample of Americans on February 17th about their attitudes towards a swath of gun-control measures. In general support for gun control is split across party lines, but there are a number of areas where all Americans find common ground.”
What Will We Do?
I for one agree with Emma Gonzales. I for one can’t watch her speech and not think we’re failing to respond to a crisis… yet again. We need to fully fund the CDC’s research into this epidemic and take the steps necessary to begin the healing. Emma’s words are strong and direct. They point directly to the inaction of both state and federal elected officials to act on previous disasters back to Columbine and Newton, to Las Vegas and Parkland. #NeverAgain makes all the sense in the world to me. Emma’s words:
“We need to pay attention to the fact that this isn’t just a mental health issue. He wouldn’t have harmed that many students with a knife. How about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the shooter’s fault? The fault of the people who let him buy the guns in the first place, those at the gun shows, the people who encouraged him to buy accessories for his guns to make them fully automatic, the people who didn’t take them away from him when they knew that he expressed homicidal tendencies, and I am not talking about the FBI. I am talking about the people that he lived with; I’m talking about the neighbors who saw him outside holding guns.
If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.”
Please take a moment to watch her speech. One of the most powerful I’ve experienced.