Turbulence and Violence Stirs “Spacious Skies” and Rocks the “Amber Waves of Grain”
As NFL players kneel to protest the American National Anthem, gun violence is also entered the spotlight as America the Beautiful is fast becoming “America the Bloody”.
From the issues arising from police killing unarmed Black men to Americans outright shooting one another for various reasons, the jump in deaths by gun violence across the United States is alarming and continues to rise at an astounding rate.
More than 90 individuals die from gun violence in the United States every single day.
The Great Divide
Much of the attention has been on the notion of how President Donald Trump has been a major factor in dividing the country. That has been further fanned by the flames of racism and hate group marches and the friction between races over the issue of the removal of historic Confederate statues and monuments in major cities.
The country also continues to be in turmoil protesting the continuing rash of police shootings of Black males where the police shooters appear to dodge indictments and trials in the deaths of those Black men.
It did not take long for another mass shooting to send shock waves across America and provide a chilling reminder of the dangers of guns in the hands of individuals mad at the world and determined to make a statement or stake their mark in the history books.
It Happens Too Often
Just this past week, 58 people were killed in a mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement that as many as 500 people were transported to area hospitals.
According to police reports, the gunman, Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old man from Mesquite, Nevada opened fire on a crowd at the Route 91 Harvest festival, a country music concert, from his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay.
The latest tragedies is bracketed by the anniversaries of two horrific massacres motivated by hate; the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, and the nine victims killed in their church in Charleston.
Adding to the turmoil are the statements by the President Trump disrespecting the mothers of NFL football players his comments calling Black players, “Sons of b!$ches”.
As tempers flare and friction and frustration increases in streets, homes and workplaces across America, gun violence is becoming more prevalent as people want to make statements or just don’t know how to properly resolve problems and conflicts.
Facts on Gun Violence
Gun violence is one of the leading causes of death in America today, according to a January 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
So far this year alone, there have been 46,759 gun related incidents, according to the Gun Violence 2017 Archives. Of those, 11,703 resulted in death and 23,747 have suffered injuries as a result of the gun violence. Gun Violence Archive (GVA) is a not for profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States.
Also, based on that that study Business Insider, Oct 3, 2017, reported that assaults by firearm kill about 11,000 people in the US each year, which translates to a roughly 1-in-370 lifetime chance of death from gun violence. That’s almost 50% more likely than the lifetime odds of dying while riding inside a car, truck, or van.
These measures also suggest Americans are more likely to die from gun violence than the combined risks of drowning, fire and smoke, stabbing, choking on food, airplane crashes, animal attacks, and forces of nature, the report said.
The Controversy of Guns
However, the main issue and new/old argument centers around what to do about assault weapons.
Assault weapons are designed to maximize lethality; they are intended to kill as many humans as possible as quickly as possible. It should come as no surprise that perpetrators of mass shootings often use these types of weapons. Assault weapons and the high-capacity magazines that accompany them should not be readily available to those who intend to do harm.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Executive Director Josh Horwitz responded to Las Vegas tragedy and the increase in a violent America awash in gun violence stating, “Days like today are always devastating for our organization…Days like today are also deeply frustrating. We are outraged that in just over a year, the deadliest mass shooting in American history has been eclipsed by another, then another. These tragedies continue to escalate because dangerous people have easy access to a limitless supply of high-powered weaponry.”
His coalition believes that all Americans have a right to live in communities free from gun violence
Some Hard Truths about Guns in America
- America has 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but almost half of the civilian-owned guns around the world.
- America has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and nearly 16 times as many as Germany
- On average, there is more than one mass shooting for each day in America
- There have been more than 1,500 mass shootings since Sandy Hook, Connecticut
In December 2012, a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut,and killed 20 children, six adults, and himself. Since then, there have been at least 1,518 mass shootings, with at least 1,715 people killed and 6,089 wounded.
“The United States of America is the only industrialized country where these massacres continue to happen,” he said. “Gun deaths have become a part of our national identity — they are a daily occurrence. When gun violence happens in neighborhoods across the country, we mourn and move on. When a gunman ambushes legislators at a Congressional baseball practice, we mourn and move on. When hundreds are shot at an outdoor concert, we are angry and outraged and call for change. We mourn. But this time, we cannot move on. We must take action.”
For African Americans one of the most bloody and notorious mass shootings in recent memory occurred in South Carolina at a Black Church.
During a prayer service, nine people (including the senior pastor, State Senator Clementa C. Pinckney) were killed by domestic terrorist Dylan Roof , a 21-year-old white supremacist. Three other victims survived. The morning after the attack, police arrested Roof in Shelby, North Carolina. Roof confessed to committing the shooting in hopes of igniting a race war.
The shooting targeted one of the United States’ oldest black churches, which has long been a site for community organization around civil rights.
Gun Violence and Mass Shootings Still Rocking the Black Community
Houston is not immune from gun violence. According to police records, Houston averages 550 gun-related incidents per year since 2015. The city is currently on pace in 2017, Houston is on pace to surpass that average.
Another area of great concern is the Black on Black gun violence occurring on the streets of Chicago, Illinois.
So far, past weekend 32 people were shot in the city and four were killed, That violence brings this year’s total to at least 2,877 the number of people shot in Chicago, down about 400 from this time last year, according to data kept by the Chicago Tribune. In 2017, there have been at least 527 homicides, about 50 fewer than this time last year, when gun violence hit levels not seen in two decades.
In 2016, police statistic reveal that the city had over 3,550 shooting incidents and 762 murders last year. That startling number works out to an average of more than two murders and nearly 10 shootings every single day.
Time for Change
Derrick Johnson, Interim President, and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) also issued a stern statement about the bloodiest mass shooting in American history to date.
“As we recover from what is now the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, we must turn our thoughts and prayers into action. Use our grief as a healing force. Come together in solidarity and demand a safer nation for our children. Call upon our governing bodies to take action and stop this dreadful gun violence epidemic,” he said. “Let this serve as a turning point for our country.”
Horwitz and Johnson are calling on policymakers on both sides of the political aisles to reexamine their positions on this critical issue join the fight to save lives.
“It is not a partisan issue — it is an American crisis,” they echoed.
“This is not normal. The shooting in Las Vegas is a tragedy — a uniquely American one. There are commonsense policies that can prevent these deaths. We know what they are. Now we need legislators on both sides of the aisle to fight for them,”Horwitz said.“Gun violence does not discriminate. It is not black or white. It is not gay or straight. It is not Republican or Democrat. We must come together to reject hate in all its forms while working to ensure that hateful, dangerous individuals do not have access to weapons of war. The easy accessibility of highly lethal weapons turns nightclubs into slaughterhouses, churches into graveyards, and baseball fields into war zones.”
By: Darwin Campbell