Golda Meir famously said that when Israel’s enemies loved their children more than they hated Israel, peace would be possible. The same could be said of members of Congress: When they love our children more than they hate standing up to the National Rifle Association, the slaughter will stop.
Last week, 17 students and teachers were shot dead at a high school near Fort Lauderdale. The assailant was another out-of-control young man with access to an assault rifle. Within an hour, the usual post-massacre teams gathered at the scene: police, media by the truckload and a trauma team that travels from killing spree to killing spree with counselors and money for funerals and warnings about post-murder scams.
The fact that we have such a team in America is both an indictment of our society and a necessity. We all know the lingo of “lockdown” and “active shooter” and “PTSD” and “sheltering in place.” Really, it’s an abomination that we’ve become so proficient at handling these tragedies rather than preventing them.
We know they are preventable.
Sandy Hook was preventable. Dylan’s mom and Daniel’s dad write to me often. In truth, I dread reading their e-mails; their words darken the day. But how wrenching it must be to write those words. These parents are leaders of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, the group that works toward stricter gun laws. They are victims of the tragedy, both having lost first-graders to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012. Their work is pure and heroic — trying to find a slender thread of hope in the heap of terrible grief that has consumed their lives.
They write to me, and millions of others, to garner support for laws that would prevent another mass shooting, or at least reduce the odds. But there has been no progress.
Instead of sensible gun-control laws drafted by a responsible Congress, we have dithering, unctuous sentiments and prayers without any commitment to change our ineffective gun laws for the better.
In an average year in this country, guns kill 30,000 people. That information comes from the Gun Violence Archive, a not-for-profit corporation formed in 2013 to offer free online public access to information about gun-related violence in the U.S.
When 20 little kids were murdered in their classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary and no serious gun control was enacted, it was more than disheartening. The legal gridlock effectively proved the intractable power of the National Rifle Association.
In the wake of Sandy Hook, which was remarkable for the numbers of innocent children shot and killed, there have been plenty of other mass shootings, from Las Vegas to Texas and now to Parkland, Fla. Sometimes they don’t even make the front pages.
Since Dec. 14, 2012, the day of the Sandy Hook killings, some 180,000 men, women and children have been shot and killed in America. In the last two years, there have been 23 toddler shootings across the country. That is, toddlers using guns to shoot themselves or others.
The U.S. stands alone with the distinction of babies bearing arms.
Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed countries, a new study by the American Journal of Medicine finds. The U.S.’s gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher than those of 22 other prosperous nations. And even though our suicide rate is similar to other countries, the nation’s gun-related suicide rate is eight times higher than other high-income countries, researchers say, according to a CBS story.
How does this extreme violence fit into the NRA argument in support of a “well regulated Militia,” guaranteed by the Second Amendment? No one wants to disarm hunters and other responsible gun owners. But how do we continue to ignore the obscene fact of 30,000 gun deaths a year?
Case in point: Over the past week, as we processed the murders in Florida, we heard absolutely nothing of substance from the president or Congress about how to stop the killings in our schools. Instead, we have been subjected to more nonstop, nonsensical political spin than a person can bear.
This isn’t about inventing better security systems for schools or high-tech door alarms. It is about electing people who promise to take on gun violence with substantive gun-control legislation. It comes down to our vote.
Do members of Congress love their children? You bet they do. Do they love their jobs so much that they refuse to stand up to the NRA? You bet they do. When they love their children — and America’s children — more than they love NRA money, we may see meaningful legislation on guns.
Copyright 2018 Randi Kreiss. Randi Kreiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.