By this December 14, an estimated 500,000 more Americans will have been killed or injured by guns since December 14, 2012, according to The Newtown Foundation. Now add nearly 60 more deaths and 500 injuries by gunfire on October 1, on the Las Vegas strip.
This is the latest in what have become regular occurrences of mass shootings/suicide in our country. Again, a festive night turns into death and chaos for hundreds of innocent people.
What does it take to end this horror? We have been asking this for the past five years in Newtown, expecting that the deaths of 20 little children and six educators would be sufficient for lawmakers to update gun laws to decrease illegal gun trafficking, restrict the possession of military-style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines, keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, and create a useful gun registry program. That this has not happened at the national level, and that these massacres continue, year after year, is atrocious.
Every city that has experienced the pain of a mass shooting understands the cost in lives and dollars every day going forward after such an incident. Towns fortunate enough to have not yet been subjected to the trauma of deadly gunfire must know that they are not immune; so long as assault-style weapons are easily accessible, no town can consider itself safe from future tragedy. So long as social isolation and mental health are not addressed, displaced anger and guns will remain a deadly combination.
Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) can be praised for plans to introduce legislation banning the sale and possession of the “bump stock,” a device used to turn a semiautomatic weapon into a fully automatic weapon, and an accessory used by the Las Vegas shooter. However, Rep Curbelo’s statement to NPR host Robert Siegel in an October 5 interview, that this kind of legislation would not have prevented the tragedy, “But it could have mitigated it. And had we saved one, ten, 20, 30 lives as a result of this legislation, then certainly it would be worthwhile,” is infuriating on two levels. One, is there an acceptable number of lives lost to gun violence? Two, for years now, common sense gun law advocates have begged Congress to ban the sale of high capacity ammunition magazines — because lives are saved when a shooter has to stop frequently to reload. Why is there a rally to ban bump stock devices, but not the weapons or the ammunition capacity that makes the weapon uber-powerful?
When weapons originally designed for military use end up in the hands of disaffected citizens, it leads to a Sandy Hook; an Aurora; an Orlando; a Las Vegas. It must be acknowledged that this age demands a need for gun laws that protect everyone’s rights: the right to own a gun for hunting and protection, and the right to live peacefully.
The right to live.
Condolences and prayers will not put a stop to the carnage. What it takes are gun laws that make a difference so that individuals and cities feel assured that schools, churches, theaters, and other peaceful gatherings are places of joy and sanctuary.
To hear firsthand from those directly affected by gun violence, and for current information on solutions to this public health crisis, consider attending the October 28 #HonorWithAction Awards Breakfast and Presentation at the Waterview in Monroe, from 9 to 11 am. David H. Chipman, senior policy advisor of Americans for Responsible Solutions, will be the keynote speaker at this Newtown Foundation event. Register at donate.newtownaction.org/product/newtown-foundation-breakfast-fundraiser-2017.
Listen, learn, and demand that national gun laws are laws we can live by.