Friday, December 14, 2012

Sandy Hook - A Tipping Point?

The tragedy at Sandy Hook is unbearable to even think about.

As a parent, I was in tears much of the day. Like everyone else, our television has been set to the news channel coverage, and Facebook and Twitter have been blowing up with nothing but talk of the horrific events of this sad day.

This is not the first mass shooting we've had this year - in fact, it's the sixth. And over the past five years there have been at least 19.

But the heartbreaking deaths today seem to me to have had an effect on Americans that I have not seen from the earlier shootings  - not the shopping mall in Oregon three days ago, not Aurora, Colorado and the movie theater shootings, not Tucson, Arizona with Gabby Giffords, not the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, not Fort Hood, not Virginia Tech, not the Unitarian Universalist Church shooting in Knoxville.

I get a feeling that we are finally tired of 'not talking about gun control.'

For years we have been intimidated and shut down by the NRA and the howls of 'Second Amendment' that have come from those who equate any kind of gun regulation with Big Bad Government taking away every American's gun. And every time there was yet another massacre, Democrats as well as Republicans somberly intoned that "this is not the day to talk about gun control."

My friend Bobby Pickett says, "This is not the day to talk about gun control. Yesterday was."

Well, I think today is fnally that day.

There is still a huge swath of people who insist that the only way to prevent gun violence is - yep, you guessed it - more guns! Guns for everyone. Guns for teachers. Armed guards in every classroom, store, business, church, home.

A commenter on my Facebook page was insistent that the more guns we had the safer we would be and that the reason the attack at Sandy Hook happened was that the teacher was not armed.

As if somehow, a sweet little kindergarten teacher would have morphed into Sharpie McGreenBeret, whipped out her AK in the middle of the Alphabet Song and picked off the bad guy before he had a chance to shoot any little children - killing or incapacitating the shooter without hitting any of the 30 crying, running, screaming little children in the room.

Wait - the shooter had four guns. So maybe each teacher should have four guns too.

And the commenter claimed that it was people like me who lived in a "fairytale world."

He truly believes in the 'vigilante' civilian who jumps to the rescue to save the day with his own gun.

In an analysis of mass shootings, one fact stands out:

Not one of them was stopped by an armed citizen.

Not a few. Not several. Not ONE. Ever.

We are the most heavily-armed society in the world.

We have more guns per capita than any other nation on earth. Yemen comes in second.

So, by that logic, if more guns made us safer we would have the lowest number of gun deaths in the world. Except, of course, for Yemen. We do not have the highest level of gun deaths in the world - but the only ones higher are mostly low income Latin American and Caribbean nations:
According to the U.N., the U.S. had 3.0 firearm homicides per 100,000 in population in 2009. But there were 14 other nations that had higher rates in 2009, primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean: Honduras (57.6), Jamaica (47.2), St. Kitts and Nevis (44.4), Venezuela (39.0), Guatemala (38.5), Colombia (28.1), Trinidad & Tobago (27.3), Panama (19.3), Dominican Republic (16.9), Bahamas (15.4), Belize (15.4), Mexico (7.9), Paraguay (7.3) and Nicaragua (5.9). Three other nations had higher rates in 2008: El Salvador (39.9), Brazil (18.1) and Ecuador (12.7). But among countries like ourselves - so-called 'First World' affluent nations - we are far and away ahead of them interms of gun deaths. One study published in 2011 confirms this finding. The study, published in the Journal of Trauma -- Injury Infection & Critical Care, found that firearm homicide rates were 19.5 times higher in the U.S. than in 23 other "high income" countries studied, using 2003 data. Rates for other types of gun deaths were also higher in the U.S., but by somewhat smaller margins: 5.8 times higher for firearm suicides (even though overall suicide rates were 30 percent lower in the U.S.) and 5.2 times higher for unintentional firearm deaths.
And, no, this isn't a 'liberal study' - it's Politifact, which does not side one way or the other. My point is - if we have the most guns, why aren't we at the very bottom of the list?

But I do sense a difference today.

I think today just might be the day that we talk about it.

And force our politicians to pay attention. That's the only way to get it done.

The will of the people cannot be ignored - if they stand up and make it known. So far we have been intimidated into keeping quiet.

For these precious children - not today.

We will not be silent today.

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