It's been a terrible week in this country, no questions asked. When I was reading up on the news this morning trying to see if any new information came out about the shootings in Texas and Ohio, I stumbled across this website called Gun Violence Archive.
Yesterday, I posted a picture to my Instagram story. This picture showed that there had been 250 mass shootings in America so far this year. For the record, a mass shooting doesn't have a single definition, but the general consensus is an incident involving 2 or more injuries and/or deaths. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Dayton was actually the 251st mass shooting this year.
As of today, there are now 255.
Today is the 217th day of 2019.
Obviously this raises some questions, because clearly something isn't right. What can my country do? What can my government do? What can I do?
The last question is the hardest to answer, and I've been struggling with it for some time in relation to about a million problems plaguing our country and world today.
You see, here's the thing: I've lost faith in my government, and I've lost faith that my fellow country-men WANT to do better.
So that leaves me.
Of course I'm not alone in these opinions, but it sure feels like it when politics are on the "not-appropriate-discussion-topics list." And even if you were to discuss it, there is about a 50 percent chance that the other person will believe something completely opposite from yourself. Thank you, two-party system.
So what can I do?
I believe mass shootings are a gun problem. I also believe they are a terrorism (domestic or otherwise) problem. They are also an education problem, a mental health problem, a racism problem, a socio-economic problem, a xenophobia problem, a lobbying problem, and the list goes on.
But what do I know about half of these things?
I wish calling or writing to my elected officials could be a solution. After all, elected officials are supposed to know more than I do. But interns are in charge of taking those messages, and they rarely make it to the intended recipient, let alone sway his or her vote.
I wish my government would realize that this is not a one-solution problem, especially not if that one solution is chosen because it best suits donors. After all, the government is supposed to work for the well-being of the country, not for the well-being of their own bank accounts.
I wish my neighbors could see that this is not a personal attack on anyone, but rather a quest to make our world safer for everyone in it. After all, the Bible commands us to love our neighbors, no matter what kind of weapons they do or do not own.
So here's what I'm going to do: since writing is my weapon of choice, I'm going to lay out facts, so that maybe, just maybe, you leave this post a little wiser and a little more equipped to make change happen.
After all, the pen is mightier than the sword, and my pen sure-as-Hell is mightier than a gun.
- The Second Amendment was written in 1791. It reads as follows: "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." (Bill of Rights Institute)
- In the 1790s, single-shot muskets were the most advanced guns available and could be fired between one and three times a minute. (History.com)
- In 2017, 18.9 percent of American adults had a mental illness. That is approximately 46.6 million adults in this country. (National Institute of Mental Health)
- There have been 8,787 deaths and 17,465 injuries from guns so far this year. (Gun Violence Archive)
- China, the world's most populated country, had approximately .04 violent gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2017. America had 4.43 violent gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2017. (NPR)
- Background checks on gun purchases do not mean anyone is going to try to remove the guns you already own. Instead, there will be new or strengthened background checks on guns you might purchase in the future. The "take your guns" narrative has been pushed by the NRA for years as a public relations tactic to encourage public outrage against any new gun laws. This is similar to how big tobacco companies controlled the narrative about smoking toward the end of the last century. There is a whole documentary about it called "Merchants of Doubt." (Four years of a top public relations education)
- The NRA opposes expanded background checks for gun purchases because "background checks don't stop criminals from getting firearms" and "because some proposals to do so would deprive individuals of due process of law." (NRA-ILA)
- "Vampirina" is a TV show on Disney Channel working to combat notions of xenophobia in children. The show is about a vampire family who moves from Transylvania to Pennsylvania. The family teaches their friends and neighbors about vampire culture and how it's not scary like it may seem. The family also learns about American culture. (My own brain)
- The weapon used in the El Paso shooting was an AK-47 style assault rifle which can fire around 600 rounds per minute. (Britannica)
- The most deadly mass shooting in US history took place on October 1, 2017, when a gunman opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival killing 58 people and injuring more than 500. (CBS News)