Dec. 14, 2012. A gunman killed 26 people, 20 of them children between ages 5 and 10, in a shooting on Friday morning at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., about 65 miles northeast of New York City, a law enforcement official said. — New York Times
In the rest of the world during that time? Fourteen. In the other 195 countries that are not America. See the list here.
Of course, that’s just schools. Since 1982, our nation has witnessed 61 mass murders carried out in public settings with firearms; of the 139 guns used by those killers, more than three quarters were obtained legally.
Right here is where we roll out the grim daily statistics of how many Americans use guns to maim and murder other Americans at home, at work, at school, at the mall, at the gym, at the church-beauty parlor-barber shop-amusement park-ball field-highway rest stop-grocery store-car lot-diner-daycare nursery-movie theater-Empire State Building-Holocaust Museum-Congressional constituent meet’n’greet.
You don’t need a lot of statistics to figure out you can be killed pretty much anywhere in the Land of the Free.
And for pretty much any reason. In Holly Hill, Florida, this past week, you just had to get stubborn about supper. (See “Witness: Roommate Killed Over Pork Chop”).
Hold on. That’s not funny, not even Making-the-Point-by-Irony Funny.
But it is Every Day Reality in These United States, the nation that makes up 5% of the world’s population and owns 50% of the world’s guns. [i]
Here’s some more reality: in 2010 there were 5,459,240 new firearms manufactured in the United States, nearly all (95%) for the U.S. market. [ii]
Feeling safe yet?
But that’s not enough guns for Americans. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the same year we imported an additional 3,252,404 firearms.
In fact, the last global Small Arms Survey showed there are close to 90 guns for every 100 Americans, an estimated 270 million guns in civilian American hands. [iii]
Are guns too easy for Americans to get? There are 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers in the United States; the nation has 36,569 grocery stores. [iv]
If that’s the Free Market talking, then it seems like Americans are saying they’d rather buy guns than eat.
In the days and weeks to come, a profusion of op-eds will appear pondering the question of why so many Americans buy so many guns and increasingly use them to commit mass murder. Commentators will posit psycho-social theories about the killers, push for more or fewer gun control laws, excoriate lax supervision and poor funding of existing enforcement.
But according to Pew Research Center, the plentiful news coverage accompanying these highly-publicized shootings has not caused Americans to significantly alter their views on the issue of gun control and gun rights.
So here’s the real question: how many more?
How many more Americans need to die by gun before We The People insist that our elected representatives make this most urgent public health crisis a priority in their legislative business?
How many more Americans need to die by gun before each community in the country takes responsibility for protecting its citizens with sensible gun laws?
Before each parent, each employer, each individual declares “enough is enough” and makes it their daily business to press for workable solutions that prevent the rising tide of preventable carnage?
We owe an answer to our children.
Not only the ones growing up in our midst who we hope will fashion a civil and just America in the years to come.
But the ones who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School without the chance to ever have their say.
[iii] “U.S. most armed country with 90 guns per 100 people” by Laura MacInnis. Reuters, Aug. 28, 2007.