We are all hurting.
I really tried to write last weekend and this weekend. But the love of guns in this country has me off my axis. I am confused and I do not know what to write as I cannot make sense of anything. Also, I am not sure that my opinion really counts on this issue. I am so un-American when it comes to guns. I just do not understand why any human being would want to own a gun.
On May 23rd, I published “An Open Letter to Parents of Most White Teenage Boys in the US.”
The next day, on May 24, 2022, I was shaken to my core when the Uvalde massacre occurred at the hands of an 18-year-old Latino man.
And then on June 1, at Tulsa’s St. Francis Health System campus in Oklahoma, four people were killed and many others injured at the hands of a 45-year-old Black male because of the pain the killer had after back surgery.
When I tried to write, I started out writing about the Columbine effect as an account for the race of the shooters in Uvalde and Tulsa. It felt totally irrelevant.
Then I tried to write about how I grew up and how the police did not have guns and my first understanding of guns was when some people who tried to overthrow the government were shot execution style at the beach and it was broadcast on tv. I did not think that was helpful.
Then I went the violence route and wrote about why people are violent. That did not seem appropriate either.
Then I wanted to write about the shooters themselves. If we understand them, maybe we can do better? Maybe it is not time yet.
Then I decided to publish something I have written in the past and has nothing to do with guns but that felt disrespectful.
Then I went looking at statistics. That totally freaked me out.
Here is what I know:
1. I am not a gun person. I am sure I will not own one in this lifetime.
2. However, I am trying to find a way to respect gun ownership in this country. I feel that this is my challenge. Just because I do not agree with you about something does not mean I should “other” you. I hold myself to these types of standards.
3. We must do something about easy access to guns. We must hold our government accountable for this. No more babies can die like this.
4. We all need more education on guns. For instance, there is no single definition of “Mass Shooting.” This impacts how the numbers are counted. This impacts truth telling.
The Gun Violence Archive defines it as “a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter who may also have been killed or injured in the incident.”
Everytown currently defines it “as any incident in which four or more people are shot and killed, excluding the shooter.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t have a mass shooting definition. Instead, the FBI defines “mass murder” as an incident where four or more people are killed, which can include gun violence.
5. We need each other more than ever. What we need now is softness and grace, not pointing fingers and not doubling down on our positions on this issue (even though I just did that.) We must center the most vulnerable in our communities: Those that are hurting due to such losses and those that have been injured as a result of such gun violence.
6. None of us feel safe. A mass shooting can happen to anyone at any time. We are all living in fear, overstimulation and anxiety.
7. I feel deeply angry and depressed about all this right now. Honestly, I feel powerless and that triggers anger for me. 96% of the American population wants background checks but our government refuses to hear our voices. Our partisan leadership which is deeply entrenched in white supremacy culture continues to rule in a way that does not benefit you and me.
Here are some unreasonable statistics that I am chewing on that has me immobile and unable to write coherently.
Ahead of the shooting, Ramos (Uvalde) had purchased 1,657 total rounds of ammunition. Overall, Ramos fired 164 rounds during the shooting. (Wikipedia)
On average between 2013-16, every day in America, 316 people are shot. More than 100 of them die each day.
693 -The number of mass shooting incidents in the United States in 2021. When defined as four or more people shot, 2021’s total is 13.4 percent higher than 2020. The shootings have claimed 702 lives and injured 2,844 people.
There are more guns than there are people in the United States. 327 million people compared to 393 million guns.
In the United States, Black men are 15 times more likely to be hurt or killed by a gun than their White, Asian, Hispanic, or other ethnic counterparts. Black men are the victims in 52 percent of gun-related homicides in America, though they represent just 7 percent of the population. Race is still an issue here.
One of the most surprising gun violence statistics may be how it affects our economy. A 2019 report from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee concluded that the costs of lost income, employer costs, health care, and police and criminal justice expenses due to gun violence amount to a staggering $229 billion—every year.
Though mass public shootings like the Boulder, Colorado, supermarket shooting; the metro Atlanta spa shootings; and the San Jose transit shooting garnered intense media attention, most mass shootings disproportionately affect Black and brown communities and receive relatively little coverage. [Gun Violence Archive] https://www.thetrace.org/2021/12/gun-violence-data-stats-2021/
Check out more reader friendly statistics here. Reader’s Digest really did an awesome job of making these statistics accessible.
I will try again to make sense of some of this when next I publish. In the meantime, dear reader, take good care of yourself. Hug those you love. We can do better. We must.