This is who we are

by Mick Rhodes |

Everytown For Gun Safety reported 636 mass shootings in the United States in 2022, which followed 686 in 2021, a grim record.

The Gun Violence Archive reports that as of Wednesday morning there have been 165 mass shootings over the first 109 days of 2023, exceeding the pace of 2022.

Firearms are now the leading cause of death for children in the United States.

This is who we are.

The gun lobby and firearms fetishists have their run of our country. The daily deluge of mass shootings has no effect on this broken, highly profitable system in which lobbyists prop up lawmakers — almost exclusively Republicans — who are loathe to risk alienating constituents who’ve been fed all manner of doomsday scenarios through widespread misinformation campaigns funded by the National Rifle Association and other partisan players. The campaign contributions roll in and lawmakers get in line, assuring the ceaseless flow of gun sales continues unabated.

The mass shooter phenomenon — exclusive to the U.S. in scale among developed countries — has seemed an unsolvable conundrum.

Advocates for gun law reform have often contended nothing will change until the politicians start losing their loved ones to firearms violence.

And that’s beginning to happen.

Tennessee is a perennial bottom dweller on the Giffords Gun Law Scorecard, which ranks states based on the robustness of their firearms control laws and the frequency and lethality of their mass shootings. In its most recent rankings, the Volunteer State received an “F.” Republican Governor Bill Lee has long been highly regarded among gun advocates as a Second Amendment champion. In 2021 he signed into law a bill that allowed permitless carry in Tennessee, and then tweeted his thanks to the N.R.A. for its help in getting the legislation passed.

After the Robb Elementary massacre of 19 children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022, Tennessee was among several G.O.P.-led states that went further down the rabbit hole of anarchic gun policy, loosening its laws to allow even more people unfettered access to firearms. At the time Lee said strengthening existing laws would not deter killers. “We can’t control what they do,” he told the New York Times.

But after a close friend was among three children and three adults slaughtered March 27 at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville, Lee was blusterless — contrite even — telling reporters legislators “should set aside politics and pride and accomplish something that the people of Tennessee want to get accomplished.” Then he signed an executive order strengthening background checks, and called on Tennessee’s Republican-controlled legislature to enact so called “extreme risk” or “red flag” laws which aim to keep firearms out of the hands of unstable people, a measure 19 states and the District of Columbia have already implemented.

Is this what it will take to get something done, for mass shooters to kill one of theirs? Maybe.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving was founded in 1980 by Candice Lightner after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver. In part due to M.A.D.D.’s advocacy, laws were strengthened. Other activist groups have been borne out of crime and violence, including the National Center for Victims of Crime, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. More recent activist organizations have sprung up around gun violence, including Moms Demand Action, which was founded after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, and Everytown For Gun Safety, in 2013.

The honest truth is but for gun control activists and the vast majority of Democratic lawmakers, we’ve stood by while the National Rifle Association has purchased its congressional defenders, and the top 49 recipients of this tainted largesse are Republicans. Days after the Nashville child killings, House Republican Andy Ogles, who represents Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District, where the March 27 shooting took place, was on television unrepentantly defending his 2021 holiday card that showed his entire family, young children included, cradling weapons of war.

Americans have long been enamored of guns. We famously codified this predilection into our Constitution with the Second Amendment. But when it was ratified in 1791, nascent U.S. lawmakers were dealing with the familiar weapons of the Georgian Empire: muskets and flintlock pistols. Under ideal circumstances, the most skilled shooter of these primitive weapons could get off three or possibly four rounds per minute at a maximum accurate range of about 164 feet.

The preferred weapon of today’s mass shooters is the semi-automatic AR-15, which unmodified is capable of delivering up to 45 rounds per minute accurately at 1,804 feet. Modified semiautomatic weapons, like the one used in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, can get off up to 800 rounds per minute at 6,000 feet.

The AR-15 is not a self-defense weapon; it is a killing machine designed to eviscerate the human body. Surgeons who’ve seen the damage report it pulverizes bones, shatters organs, and results in body tissue left crumbling in their hands.

Its relation to the standards of 1791 is nonexistent.

To argue the drafters of the Second Amendment, in their breeches and waistcoats, had the capacity to contemplate the evolution of firearms in the 21st century is disingenuous and absurd. But that is exactly what Second Amendment die-hards have maintained for decades, and roughly half of America agrees. It’s a wonderful sleight-of-hand misdirection, this false equivalence, and it’s been marvelously effective.

America remains economically and militarily strong, but I for one feel it’s rotting from the inside. Our population of 332 million owns 465 million guns. And while kids are being killed in record numbers by firearms, Republican lawmakers remain on the take, trading childrens’ lives for power.

Holding on to power at any cost should not be what public service is about.

But this, apparently, is who we are.



    I am a volunteer with Pomona Valley Moms DAction for Gun Sense. We started last year after Uvalde. A huge Thank You for this editorial. We will have a booth at Sunday’s event.


    I am a volunteer with Pomona Valley Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. We have been active in sending safe gun storage information distributed in the community and advocating for effective red flag laws. Thank you for this editorial. We will have a booth this Sunday on First Street. Hope you can stop by.

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