In the late 1980’s, my family lived in Newtown, Connecticut. Our kids were little, the same age as the youngsters who several years later were killed by an individual with semi-automatic weapons, and clearly impacted by mental illness. I thought then that the only good that could come out of such an unspeakable tragedy would be that the nation would rise up as one and say “enough.”
Sadly and now bookmarked by the most recent tragedy in Charleston, the nation has not moved on the issue of guns in America. Nine more lives have been taken, no doubt hate, race, mental illness, will be cited as root causes, but here, as in so many other massacres, the instrument of death is a concealed weapon.
We now live and work in Philadelphia. It is the unusual week when the news does not report a shooting. The crimes may not attract national attention, as we are growing numb as a society to the deaths that bluntly we have come to accept as “normal”. Random acts of violence, the killing of young men, domestic violence, crime induced gun use … the list goes on.
In Charleston, the issue of race also rears itself as an issue in the streets of Philadelphia, and across the nation. The combination of hate and guns breeds a particularly deadly mixture, one whose cup too many drink out of with destructive consequences, and too often, the victims are disproportionally Africa Americans.
No other industrialized country in the world has the gun violence that we have here in America. The President spoke with clarity the obvious: “At some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass killing does not happen in other advanced countries”. Not just mass killing, but the same can be said for the one-on one-shootings that occur every day in our streets. No other advanced country. The difference is gun ownership.
If Newtown could not get the national attention, I suspect the events in Charleston will not move the needle either. What is it going to take if little kids and members of a prayer group being gunned down are found to be not enough reason or example to change the law?
Let me ask you: If it were your child or your brother or sister or spouse, would you feel differently? None of us are that far away from being touched. I get the Constitution, I just don’t think the Founding Fathers anticipated this when they spoke of the right to bear arms.
Are you going to wait until it impacts you personally or are you going to call for change? When are we going to stop counting votes, and start saving lives?
Are you willing to leave the comfort of your home and confront the issue on the streets of our inner city and care as much for the safety of a stranger as your own family? Are you willing to do the uncomfortable to save lives of people you may not know? I just hope that Charleston does not become one more city on a tragic list. And that is up to us.