Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The Smoking Gun
Guy shoots up Fort Hood in Texas. Kills 13, wounds 30 more. How could we have possibly prevented this? Was it caused by depression? Anti-military fervor? He's a Muslim - was he a terrorist? (You know how those people are.)
How could we have stopped this?
The next day, a shooting in Florida. One dead, five injured in a highrise building. Oh, but this is totally unrelated to the Texas shootings. That was a military base, this was in a place of business. No connection whatsoever.
Last week, a police officer was shot and killed here in Seattle, shot in his own police car. But undoubtedly, it was unrelated to the other shootings. Different place, different motive. No connection whatsoever.
Yesterday, there was a shooting in the town where my wife works. Attempted murder-suicide, according to news reports. But of course, that had nothing at all to with the other shootings. No connection whatsoever.
Tonight, a man will be executed for committing a series of high-profile shootings in the Washington D.C. area. Any connection to the other crimes? Oh no, of course not. This was a serial killer, a psychopath, totally unpredictable. His crime was an aberration.
There's no connection at all.
Here's the pattern that I see. Shooting, shooting, shooting, shooting, and another shooting. The connection is guns. The connection is unmistakeable, unavoidable, and undeniable.
On the day that the Fort Hood shooting occurred, dozens of other shootings also happened and most of them never even made the news. Shootings in this country are an epidemic, and we're so inured to them that all we do is shake our heads when another one happens. What a shame, we say. Another senseless crime. Another unstoppable crime. We throw up our hands - what can you do?
Here's what you can do. You can call your member of Congress, call your city council, call your town's mayor. Ask them what they're doing to reduce gun violence, and make them get specific. Call the president and tell him to make gun violence a priority.
What can we do about it? Support sensible gun laws in your state and in federal law, like closing the gun show loophole.
What can we do? Support local organizations that are fighting the scourge of guns (we have a great local organization called Washington Ceasefire), or support the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Don't just turn your head. One hundred thousand people are shot in this country each year, and over ten thousand people every year die from gun violence. Our children, our neighbors, our families are all suffering from this plague. According to the Center for Disease Control's Leading Causes of Death Reports, from age birth until age 65 firearms are consistently among the top ten leading causes of death in our communities. And among our young people aged 15-24 firearms rank in the top three leading causes of death. Firearms take twice as many lives as AIDS does each year. (Thanks to the Brady Campaign and Washington CeaseFire for the statistics.)
These are preventable crimes, but we have to be brave enough to fight in order to prevent them.