Seven-year-olds with guns, and other stories from America in 2013



Why is America an unusually violent country? Probably not because guns are everywhere.
  • Why is America an unusually violent country? Probably not because guns are everywhere.
The attacks of September 11, 2001, set in course a lot of change in America: the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the passing of the Patriot Act, the waging of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has been a year and about a week since the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the most horrifying event to occur on American soil since the 9/11 attacks. Twenty children and six adults were killed inside a school, at random, by a crazed gunman. And absolutely nothing meaningful has changed with regard to guns in America.

Yesterday, a seven-year-old boy in St. Joseph, Missouri, brought a loaded gun to school. Also yesterday, at a hospital campus in Reno, Nevada, a gunman killed one person and injured two others before turning the gun on himself. Last Friday, a student at Arapahoe High School in Colorado shot a classmate point-blank in the head in the middle of the school day before shooting himself.

Also in the year since Sandy Hook:

Twelve dead in the Washington Navy Yard.
Six dead, four wounded in Santa Monica, California.
Five dead in Albuquerque.
Seven dead in Hialeah, Florida.
Five dead in Fernley, Nevada.
Five dead in Manchester, Illinois.
Four dead in St. Louis.
One dead, four wounded at a carnival in Hampton, Virginia.
Four dead, two wounded at a car wash in Herkimer, New York.
Nineteen wounded at Mother's Day parade in New Orleans.
Five dead in Seattle.
Three dead, six injured in Detroit.
Two dead, 22 wounded at house party in Houston.

There have been dozens and dozens and dozens more.

The NRA is a big part of the problem, yes. It's an organization that exists to make it easier for Americans to get their hands on guns and ammunition, and easier for Americans who sell guns and ammunition to make gobs of money. It does this by drafting gun legislation with these goals in mind and dangling contributions in front of politicians who will bring NRA-backed bills to the floor and vote along with the organization's pro-gun agenda. Ultimately, though, the NRA is powerless if Americans stop electing politicians who sit in the NRA's lap.

This is all kind of obvious, but think about it: If gun violence is abhorrent to you, why would you vote for people like Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts? Both are sitting U.S. senators who get "A" ratings from the NRA. They're not just voting to preserve the Second Amendment; the Second Amendment is in absolutely no danger. They're voting against things that would very obviously make this country a safer place. They're voting for things like loosening background checks at gun shows and repealing bans on semiautomatic weapons and other high-capacity magazines. (Moran's gun record here; Roberts' here.) Ditto everything for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

What about Roy Blunt, in Missouri? He doesn't think it should be legal to sue a gun manufacturer; he wants to repeal trigger-lock laws; he wants to decrease the waiting period for a gun from three days to one. On the other hand, Claire McCaskill, the other U.S. senator from Missouri, has voted to ban high-capacity magazines; she has voted against allowing guns on Amtrak trains.

How are your local representatives at the state level voting on gun issues? If you are interested, all you have to do is go to sites like this and type in their name and see how they vote. If you don't like what you see, you should e-mail them or call them and tell them so. And then come election time, you should vote for people who legislate responsibly in regard to guns. There is literally no other way that the disturbing trend of gun violence in America - roughly 10,000 gun homicides a year, compared with 200 annually in countries like Germany and Canada - will ever be reversed.


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