Despite over 280 mass shootings in just the first 150 days of 2023, the urgent call to action in the face of this escalating wave of violence remains largely unheeded across the United States.
Faced with the mounting number of tragedies in the wake of the unprecedented and recurrent acts of violence in every sector of the nation, what is particularly disturbing about this social psychosis is that the wanton disregard for life continues to proliferate.
The Gun Violence Archive tracked more than 647 mass shootings in 2022 and 690 in 2021. Mass shootings are defined — which in and of itself is tragic that there is a national threshold — requires a minimum of four people shot to qualify.
And in 2023, we are already on par to beat our own staggering and despicable record, with more than 280 mass shootings in only 150 days of the year.
But the real frustration is that while we decry these senseless tragedies when they happen and stain the social conscience, they end up being a sound bite that invariably ends with “we have to do something.”
We haven’t done much, and that “doing something” is basically an ambiguous declaration for more investigations, studies, and analyses of why 10 shoppers at a Buffalo grocery store were mowed down, or why nine churchgoers were killed in Charleston, South Carolina, by one wayward but armed teen, and why entirely too many children are killed in schools, and at parties and in the streets.
It goes without saying that this latest wave of violence and terrorism is seeded in an enriched climate of cruelty and hatred for Black, Brown, Asian, Jewish, and LGBTQ persons. But these deranged killers don’t discriminate. They kill kids and students, parents and parishioners, the disabled and the disadvantaged.
Taking a deeper dive into the issues and incidents in our communities and shining a spotlight on the factors that contribute to the problem is a start, not a solution. Mass shootings, police-involved killings, and random acts of violence from rebels without a cause or conscience, are rooted in a distorted and dangerous need for power.
What’s absurd is that while an individual can carry out an act of what amounts to mass destruction, legislators charged with a duty to protect the public are unable or unwilling to effectively address and resolve to end these attacks on gender, race, color, and creed.
Stopping the violence is more than a matter of chronicling the incidents, studying the circumstances, and looking for explanations. The point is to get beyond the obligatory mourning period and mandate an end to the violence that is decimating communities and the country.
That well-meaning, but incredibly tired declaration that “something” has to be done is ambiguous at best, and an empty sound bite for politicians and government officials to deflect attention from their lack of action regarding the barrage of assaults on their constituents and the American public.
Certainly, they are earnest in their grief. They just don’t feel bad enough to make assault rifles and handguns illegal and prohibit questionable persons from buying any guns at all.
And then the NRA flexes its muscle and money to influence legislation and block attempts to stop the indiscriminate licenses to purchase guns. That “right to bear arms” argument has become passe.
The text of the Second Amendment that gun advocates hold onto so dearly, actually reads: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
That was written before organized law enforcement agencies were established and during a time when a militia was necessary to protect Americans against foreign adversaries.
We live in an increasingly vitriolic climate with distorted notions of what is allowable under the law, whether it’s a police officer shooting an unarmed citizen, or vigilantes exercising some bloated sense of power.
But when those who have real power — the power to mandate a stop to violence — don’t respond to these horrific tragedies by enacting and enforcing stricter gun laws, they will have to bear much of the responsibility for the terrorism we are witnessing. And the anarchy we saw at the nation’s capital on Jan. 6, 2021, was just a preview of what’s to come.