In President Obama’s Umpqua Community College speech he said, “our thoughts and prayers are not enough”; just feeling sad for the victims of American gun homicides isn’t enough. The Oregon shooting was only one of 294 mass shootings in the 274 days of this year. The Umpqua Community College murder of ten people is just the tiny tip of a very large and very ugly iceberg. There are mass shootings almost every day here in the United States as can be seen in this chart from the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia.
Note that on April 5, June 13, July 15, and August 2, there were five homicides with four or more victims; that’s a minimum of twenty people who died those days from gun shots, and that’s twice as many as died at Umpqua. The reason those deaths were not reported is because they were sprinkled randomly over the whole country, so they didn’t get national news. Apparently the American national newspapers are cowed by the National Rifle Association into not reporting the magnitude of the daily horror. Local papers report only the local murders.
It’s only politically motivated or public religious murders that become national news, and the thousands of others are ignored because they are so common and thus not newsworthy. Murders inside a church, or school, or a public event get national news coverage, but the vast numbers of common people are ignored.
Between 2001 and 2014 there were reported to be 165,700 gun homicides and a total of approximately 420,000 gun related deaths. Why? Here’s why!
That is a wonderful speech by Charlton Heston, where he holds up a Revolutionary War musket and claims that it is the weapon that will protect us from an evil government. That it will defend us against evil governments foreign and domestic. The only problem is that the modern weapons of mass destruction available to governments are literally millions of times more potent than his musket. The only way we can protect ourselves from an evil government is by maintaining, as an absolute and undeniable right, the Freedom of Speech, and it can’t be defended with a musket or pistol or AK47; it is defended with a balance of power between contending parties who are in control of the governments. If every person doesn’t have the freedom to express themselves clearly and without repercussions, and vote consistently to put honest people into positions of public trust and power, those who will defend our freedom of speech, then the American musket-toting patriots will be quickly silenced. It is the power of the voting public that protects the people, and not muskets. Guns kill individual people, and guns in millions of people’s hands put every individual at risk, but they don’t protect us from potential rulers with intentions to suppress us.
So what can we do to maintain our freedoms and simultaneously maintain our lives? One thing would be to make certain we understand the problems and their magnitude. To understand our personal risk we need a computer app that would scroll the names of the gun victims either across the top or bottom of one’s computer screen, or as a single line flipping list of names at a rate of one every few seconds. Date – City, State – Name – Motive – Weapon. Another event could be to have public readings of the list of victims in public places across the world, and reading at normal speed and continuously it would take about a month to read the death toll since 2001. Here is the list of current deaths from the Gun Violence Archive. The 2015 toll is 39,750 as of October 3. To read that list in public places on national holidays would make the problem more apparent.
Killing innocent people doesn’t make us free.