Now Is EXACTLY When We Should Talk About Preventing Gun Violence
News broke this afternoon of a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in the small city of Roseburg, Oregon. Initial reports indicate that 13 people have been killed, and up to 20 more injured. The details of the shooting are still being uncovered and we currently have very little information on the motive or the shooter’s identity, background, and possible criminal history. First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the Roseburg community.
In moments like this, some people are quick to condemn any talk about the broader problem of gun violence in America. Others are hesitant to “politicize” a tragedy. But the problem is too big and too important. Thoughts and prayers are simply not enough. Now is exactly the right time to discuss this issue.
The scope of gun violence in America is shocking. Here are a few facts on just how widespread it is:
- According to Everytown for Gun Safety, this is the 45th school shooting in 2015 alone.
- There have been a total of 142 school shootings since Sandy Hook.
- Mass shootings are becoming more frequent in the United States. Research from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that the rate of mass shootings in the U.S. has tripled since 2011:
- There have been nearly a thousand mass shootings since Sandy Hook, defined as four or more people shot in the same incident. Here is a map of all of them:
- In 2015, there have been more mass shootings of this kind than days in the year: 294 mass shootings in 274 days.
- There has been no calendar week without a mass shooting during President Obama’s second term as president:
- The gun lobby’s claims about ‘gun-free zones’ is a myth. According to a forthcoming analysis reported on here, of 134 mass shootings identified between January 2009 and July 2015, more than two-thirds (91 incidents) happened wholly or in part in public places where concealed guns could be lawfully carried or in private residences.
- Gun violence is particularly devastating to young people. This year is the year when gun violence passes motor vehicle accidents as the leading killer of young people under 26 years old:
- Gun laws matter. States with weak gun laws have higher rates of gun violence, according to the Center for American Progress:
- America has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, 15 times as many as Germany, and 21 times as many as Australia.
In reacting to today’s terrible tragedy, the White House was not afraid to speak what is on many of our minds. The “vast majority of Americans” support strengthening common-sense gun safety laws, said spokesman Josh Earnest, such as expanding background checks and closing the loophole where criminals can buy guns online no questions asked.
BOTTOM LINE: A horrible mass school shooting in Oregon is another reminder of the extent of gun violence in America. Whether it is a school shooting, an incident of domestic violence, or a stray bullet, there are steps we can take to reduce the risk that our families, neighbors, and fellow citizens are gunned down. The politics are frustrating, to be sure. The tragedies are heartbreaking. But we have an obligation to the victims to use moments like these to remind ourselves that our society can change, if we hold elected officials accountable for their inaction.
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