Here's what I don't understand. I don't understand why our national discussion around guns and gun owners' rights and gun safety don't acknowledge the simple truth that the easy availability of guns in our culture leads to more deaths. Isn't it really just that simple? The solution to that is FAR from simple, but cannot we all agree that the presence of guns = more deaths?
My life has been touched by gun violence three times in the last 18 months. In one instance, the family member of a dear friend died at the end of a gun following a domestic dispute. In another, a relative of mine defended himself against a perceived threat and unintentionally killed one of his peers. And in another, the child of another dear friend was killed in a mass shooting by a very disturbed individual.
In each of these cases, the guns were legally obtained and easily available. In each of these cases, death was the direct result of the easy accessibility of the guns in question. Why aren't we asking, as a nation, how outcomes would be different if guns were not so easily accessible? What might have been different if, in the heat of the moment, the person who ended up pulling the trigger did not have access to such an efficient killing tool?
Here's a frightening thought: over 40% of guns purchases in the US last year are not subjected to background checks. They are purchased through loopholes, at gun shows and over the internet.
Here's another chilling fact: gun manufacturers gave over $50,000,000 to the NRA lobby last year. (Just in case you were wondering how legislation supported by 90% of the voters was defeated in the Senate earlier this year.)
Yale University spent this gorgeous fall day in lock down while FBI and SWAT teams conducted a building-to-building search for a reported armed gunman. How is this okay? How are we not discussing how to limit access to guns?
There are a lot of issues at play in the US when it comes to gun violence, none of which have easy solutions. But surely we can agree that there is no sense requiring background checks for some gun purchases, but not all. Surely we can agree that more resources are needed to treat mental health issues. Surely we can agree that there is too much money from gun interests polluting our political system.
Surely we can agree that the more guns there are, the more deaths there will be.
We need to start somewhere. We must keep this conversation going. We must make our voices heard in Washington, and in our state capitols. The cost of doing nothing is too great.