by Reggie Fullwood
A plague is defined as “an epidemic disease causing a high rate of mortality.” The chronic school shootings that have become commonplace in America are reminders of our failure as a society to properly deal with gun control and mental health. These shootings have become a plague in our country – an epidemic.
Recently, another two mass shootings rocked the United States. Another white male gunman killed 22 people and injured dozens more at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. Hours later, a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio left nine people dead.
“So long as you have a society with a lot of guns (and America has more guns per capita than any other county in the world), children will be at risk of gun violence. The questions are how much risk, and what is being done to minimize it?” These are the words of Gary Younge in his book, “Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Live.”
The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms. It was ratified in December 1791, and the amendment says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
But there is a fine line between infringing on a “citizen’s right to bear arms” and attempting to fight the battle against gun violence. There will be Americans that say the government should stay out of our lives and let people own as many guns as they want – regardless of their background and mental aptitude.
I call that the “Wild West/NRA” mentality. While I acknowledge that the Constitution clearly grants the right to bare arms, we still must bear arms responsibly.
How many times must innocent children, Walmart shoppers, movie or concert goers and school employees have to be senselessly killed before there is enough of a national outcry to aggressively deal with gun control? Last February, we witnessed a Valentine’s Day Massacre at a Parkland, FL high school. Nikolas Cruz is accused of killing 17 students and teachers with an AR-15 assault rifle.
Here’s what’s so scary – no one is surprised anymore. We live in a country where mass murder has become commonplace. There have been too many deaths, too many mass murders, and too many black market gun sales. And clearly too many mentally unstable people getting their hands on high capacity guns and ammunition.
Enough has been enough for a long time now, and while I don’t know all of the answers, as a responsible nation we must start somewhere. We are past the time to put politics aside. Congress and the President need to figure out a way to curb gun violence regardless of what the NRA says or how much they contribute to campaigns.
Some conservatives like to talk about Muslim terrorists, but over the past few years we have seen a rise in domestic extremists. The FBI has seen a significant rise in the number of white supremacist domestic terrorism cases in recent months, as reported by CNN.
Think about all the recent acts of terrorism – from El Paso to the Vegas murders to shooting up movie theaters and elementary schools to the Charleston, SC church murders and even the Planned Parenthood attacks – assault weapons were involved and most were racially motivated.
And I can’t stress enough that domestic terrorism is now a much bigger threat than foreign terrorists. I continue to be dumbfounded at how the Wild West side of the debate continues to win the battle over gun control.
Minutes before the El Paso shooting, a hate-filled rant was posted online, apparently by the gunman, saying, “This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
Sadly, eight Mexican citizens were killed in the El Paso massacre, which is yet another reminder that both guns and racism are out of control.
And let me say this again – I agree and support the fact that every American citizen has a constitutional right to bear arms. But bearing arms doesn’t mean that John Q Citizen should have access to the same assault rifles that our military men and women use.
Here are some facts that just can’t be voided. That overused myth from the NRA and gun lovers that “Guns don’t kill people – people kill people,” is absurd.
According to federal crime data, the states with the highest gun ownership rates have a gun murder rate 114 percent higher than those with the lowest gun ownership rates. Studies also show that gun death rates tend to be higher in states with higher rates of gun ownership. Gun death rates are generally lower in states with restrictions such as assault-weapons bans or safe-storage requirements.
There’s a notion that good guys with guns can stop the bad guys who are committing these mass shootings. Hmmm… does anyone actually have evidence proving this notion? Let me answer that for you – No! Good guys with guns might help a situation if properly trained, but they could also make the situation worse.
There has to be a compromise on gun control legislation. The gun lobbyists and the NRA are winning and it’s time to change the narrative. In the meantime, I pray for those families have senselessly lost loved ones last week.
Signing off from Washington DC, Reggie Fullwood