According to a recent Washington Post analysis of data from the Gunfight Violence Archive, a non-profit research organization, “2020 was the deadliest gun violence year in decades and 2021 has already been a terrible year for gun violence. During the first five months of 2021, gunfire killed more than 8,100 people in the United States, about 54 lives lost per day, 14 more deaths per day than the average toll during the same period of the previous six years. Last weekend alone, more than 120 people died in shootings, with three especially dangerous incidents in Austin, Chicago and Savannah.”
When will the rest of us find these senseless murders offensive enough to do something about it? Me included.
Sadly, this will not be the end of senseless tragedies that continue to wrestle within my mind. The runaway train of gun violence is a force that is coming at a speed I cannot reckon with. I am not one who enjoys statistics, but today, I am forced to stare reality in the face.
More shootings, more loss, more families ripped apart in a nanosecond by some lunatic who had a bad day or because he felt our government did not do enough for him or believe lies created on social media, a gang member, anyone of these. The madness has no end. The sounds of bullets fall on deaf ears thanks to the NRA, our legislators who care more about being elected than they do about their constituents’ lives and countless others who believe they have a constitutional right to carry a gun and use it. The right to bear arms may have gone too far; it seems to really be a right to kill.
The feeling of helplessness overcomes me like a thick, black shadow following me around. The dust barely settles before I hear it again. When will I be one of those statistics? It was just over three years ago that my son survived a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California. The stain of that night will remain with me, my son, my daughters, and his friends, who by the grace of g/d, survived. He made it out alive, but the cosmic waves of memories and emotion that he must feel along with his buddies may be as painful as the bullets themselves. I know I have not had a day go by without me thanking g/d that he survived. I think about his bravery when he blew a window out with his fist and helped others to safety. But this feeling of angst just sits with me and seems to be the impetus for much of my uneasiness for my family and friends. Worrying is not the answer and it only leaves me feeling helpless, which I refuse to believe I am. There must be more I can do.
How do we tackle gun violence? I have learned more than I ever wanted to about guns over the past couple of years and the ugly statistics that go hand in hand with the purchase of guns. I have learned about ghost guns, guns you can actually make at home from plastic. There is no serial number, and they are untraceable. A person can purchase this 3-D type of gun printer for a mere $2,000. Ghost guns have already been used in three mass shootings in California. I live in California. Where do you live? But it is not just a ghost gun; what about these weapons of mass destruction? When will it make sense that no one should ever possess one of these? But these lunatics who believe this is their constitutional right to carry these weapons and end up mowing down tens of people at a time.
Domestic extremists threaten us with guns; people with mental illness threaten us with guns, people who lose their temper and within a day make a crazy decision purchase a gun and then walk into their apartment only to shoot their girlfriend who may have cheated on him threaten us with guns. Doctors are being murdered, children are being murdered, people who don’t look like certain people are being murdered and people who pray differently are being murdered. People who are just working at a market or massage parlor are getting murdered. Students going to school are getting murdered and people who are simply doing their job at a manufacturing plant are being murdered. The destruction of so much life burns within like a volcano ready to erupt. The mass murder runaway train is speeding up and the brakes are not working. The question is, who will be our Superman at the end of tunnel pushing back against the train until it finally comes to a halt. I wish I was Superman.
We lose hundreds of people a day to gun violence. Hundreds of senseless deaths a day. Hundreds! My stomach turns. Who will be next? What will it take to prevent this loss? I keep looking at myself in the mirror and wonder what more I can do to stop the insanity. Advocate. Speak up. Use the voice within me like a lioness roars to protect her cubs. Meet with as many local, state and national legislators as I possibly can and push them for change. But I am only one voice. Mom’s march against gun violence, Rep. Gabby Gifford marches, communities gather and march against gun violence. Vigils are held and letters are written. Some policies get passed but until we, as a country, as a collective voice, finally say enough is enough and truly derail this train, our children, our family, our friends and you and I are in danger of losing our lives to a .05 cent bullet and a “hot off the printer” ghost gun or an AK15 fired by a misguided youth or a nut job who had a bad day. The fine blonde hairs on my arm are raised. Fear grows within me as I write these words.
My volunteer organization, Hadassah, has long been a strong advocate and supporter for strict gun control initiatives and believes that current laws do not go far enough, nor are enforced rigorously enough to help prevent gun control violence.
My heart goes out to the hundreds of people who are immediately affected by the loss of their loved one over the past month. I wish I could say that the mourning will stop. But until our collective voice is as strong as the lioness protecting her cubs from the threat of death, I fear the NRA and the chokehold they have on our politicians will ensure that nothing will stop the runaway train. We must raise our voices and stop the train. I try to do the math in my head. How many more must die and how many of us can rise up? I dream of a day that we are a collective Superman. If we only could heed the words of my favorite superhero, “I once thought I could protect the world by myself. but I was wrong. Working together, we saved the planet. And I believe that if we stay together, as a team, we would be a force that could truly work for the ideals of peace and justice.”
We must stop the runaway train of gun violence now or there may not be a chance tomorrow. As Superman said, “Dreams save us. Dreams lift us up and transform us. And on my soul, I swear until my dream of a world where dignity, honor, and justice become the reality we all share, I’ll never stop fighting. Ever!”