Letter: Gun violence crisis runs much deeper than mass shootings
In 2017, there were over 310 mass shootings in the U.S. in which four or more people were injured or killed. Since 2013, there have been 142 school shootings, with 19 already in 2018. What we sometimes forget are the almost 35,000 gun deaths and approximately 65,000 gun-related injuries each year in the US. This means one million U.S. families shattered by gun violence in the past 10 years!
Consider these horrifying statistics from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence: 1) 6,410 American women were murdered by an intimate partner using a gun between 2001 and 2012; 2) In that same year, the U.S. had over 12,000 firearm-related homicides, while Japan had only 11; 3) Guns are used in just 5 percent of suicide attempts, but are responsible for 50 percent (300,000) of suicide deaths since 2000; 4) The U.S. gun death rate is 20 times higher than that of 22 other high-income nations.
The issue is not "guns kill people" or "people kill people." It is "guns in the hands of potentially dangerous people kill people." The challenge is how to keep guns out of the hands of those with criminal records, mental health and depression issues, domestic abusers, underage and other at-risk persons. We desperately need better protection orders, mandatory background checks for all sales, gun registration and licensing, and restrictions on ownership of assault weapons.
The NRA as an organization has shown it does not care how many people die from guns, but rather that their imagined unlimited Second Amendment rights are not infringed, and about the profits and donations of gun manufacturers. At the same time, 97 percent of Americans in a February 2018 Quinnipiac poll want background checks on all gun sales, including 92 percent of gun owners and 74 percent of NRA members. It is crucial that the over four million rank-and-file NRA members, as well as millions of other gun owners, communicate with NRA state and national leadership that either the NRA becomes a leading advocate for reducing gun violence, or they will pull their political and financial support, and/or vote current NRA board members and executives out of office. The NRA's defiance and opposition can no longer be a roadblock to life-saving gun ownership reforms.
Just like the civil rights movement 50 years ago, and the successes of MADD and smoke-free campaigns of the past 40 years, tens of millions of adults and students will not stop until major changes are enacted that will greatly reduce gun violence and gun deaths. For the sake of over 100,000 families a year, I implore readers to contact state and national legislators and convey the urgency in enacting reasonable gun ownership reform.