Sitting in a LEO staff meeting last Thursday, the morning after the San Bernardino shootings, we digressed from the normal agenda, instead finding ourselves in a conversation about mass shootings — a conversation that is part of the normal agenda in America. This was before anyone knew about the shooters’ radicalization, their arsenal of legally-purchased weapons and stockpile of 6,000 bullets, or whether this was an act of “terror” or just your run-of-the-mill mass shooting. In the end, it is all terrorism.
On Nov. 2, a 9-year-old in Chicago was lured into an alley, shot and killed.
Later that night after our staff meeting, we would all be together at an office holiday party just like the 14 killed at their San Bernardino office party. Daily, we will gather in our conference room, much like the staff at Charlie Hebdo must have done the morning 11 of them were killed by gunmen. I’m on the Board of Planned Parenthood, and every time I’ve entered their building or sat in a meeting, I’ve wondered if that was the day a crazy person would walk in with a military-grade weapon, just like in Colorado Springs two weeks ago. Those thoughts extend to malls, movie theaters and even schools.
There are important reasons for governmental authorities to distinguish between acts of terror, and other violent crimes. That being said, for the rest of us it’s all terrorism. It is gun terror.
On Nov. 7, a 5-year-old in Ohio was shot and killed when one of 10 bullets that was fired on the street outside his house found him while he was playing on his living room floor.
It is not responsible gun owners who are to blame. I regret that most gun owners — those who are responsible, careful, trained and don’t pack it every time they go to the grocery store — are looped-in to the class of gun nuts who think Obama is coming to take their guns, who run out to hoard weapons and ammo after every mass shooting, and those who oppose any reasonable, rational measures by the government to curb the flow of mass-killing machines to terrorists, gangs, criminals and the mentally ill. I hate the political cliché of a “common-sense approach,” but this is truly common sense stuff. Responsible, mature gun owners understand that.
On Nov. 12, a 9-year-old boy in Detroit shot and killed himself with a shotgun.
The problem is not gun owners, it’s the NRA, who recklessly obstruct any action that might slow gun violence, and refuses to help find workable solutions that could improve a deplorable situation. The problem is the gun manufacturer, Armalite, who advertises on the NRA’s website, “Stay on top of the food chain,” with the image of an AR-10, assault rifle and a 20-round magazine. The problem is the Kentucky Concealed Carry Coalition (KCCC), who doesn’t care about downtown Louisville, but will sue the KFC YUM! Center if it doesn’t allow firearms at its events. The problem is the KCCC conducting a $5 gun raffle. That’s right, for $5 damn dollars you could win an IWI Tavor, the weapon used by the Israeli Defense Force infantry and special forces. Oh, and it comes with a 30-round clip.
On Nov. 12, a 2-year-old toddler was shot in the face while playing with his twin brother. Apparently the gun just went off.
Any presidential candidate whose response to mass shootings — whether in Paris or Planned Parenthood, Colorado Springs or an Ohio living room — who responds with talk of thoughts and prayers, owes us some thoughts to go with their prayers. If they respond with talk about researching and addressing mental illness, then at least do something to research and address mental illness. If they respond by criticizing President Obama’s language, then they are not serious people and should not be considered for higher office. We need change in action, not rhetoric.
On Nov. 29, a 6-year-old girl shot herself in the head. She found the loaded gun in the family’s sofa. That makes five cases of children who were shot and killed in November alone; there were more, but I ran out of paragraphs. According to the Center for Disease Control from 2007-2011 an average of 62 children under the age of 14 — that’s more frequent than one every six days — were accidentally killed each year. I include them as a reminder that for every mass shooting, another month passes, and another five children die from guns.
The best news in a long time came yesterday, however, when the Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to a local assault weapons ban in a Chicago suburb. This implies that the Court is giving approval, albeit unspecified, to states and cities who choose to impose a strict ban on guns of mass destruction. The Chicago ordinance banned some specified models, but also included semiautomatic assault rifles, generally, as well as high-capacity (over 10-round) magazines.
Mayor Greg Fischer and the Metro Council needs to move to introduce similar legislation immediately.