As a nation, we can address gun violence. But it's going to take courage

Tuesday , October 03, 2017 - 4:30 AM6 comments


As the death toll climbed Monday in Las Vegas, Americans did what they always do after a mass killing — they grieved.

They prayed.

The offered their condolences. Or, in President Trump’s case, “My warmest condolences and sympathies.”

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Americans on the left called for strict new gun control measures. Politicians allied with the National Rifle Association insisted this was no time to talk about gun control. Over the course of the day, our positions hardened.

Even the 59 dead and 515 wounded in Las Vegas probably cannot move us, as a nation, to address gun violence.

How do we know?

Because the 48 dead and 59 wounded at an Orlando, Florida, dance club didn’t change anything in 2016.

Neither did the nine dead at a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015.

Nor did the 27 dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

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We’ve become a nation that sees the victims of mass shootings as statistics, not human beings. Even when they’re first-graders. We recoil at the images of the dead and wounded, recite our platitudes and retreat to the safety of like-minded people.

In the end, we do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of people like Stephen Craig Paddock, Omar Mateen, Dylann Roof and Adam Lanza — the shooters in Las Vegas, Orlando, Charleston and Newtown, respectively. So the killings continue.

FiveThirtyEight reports that of the more than 33,000 Americans fatally shot each year, 12,000 are homicides. Annually, the cost of gun violence exceeds $229 billion, according to Mother Jones.

The greatest cost is to our souls, however. We would rather watch people die 59 at a time in Las Vegas than seek common ground on firearms.

We can address gun violence. We can protect the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment while, at the same time, reducing the risk of mass shootings. But that requires courage.

It requires the courage to view mass shooting victims as more than statistics.

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