I received a request for a donation today from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In it was a letter from Colin Goddard, who survived the Virginia Tech shootings and became a gun-control activist. Goddard says that there have been over one hundred school shootings in the United States since the one at Columbine High School, in Columbine, Colorado, in 1999. One hundred shootings at schools in our country.
Also yesterday, I had the radio on in the car and couldn’t help noticing that the top two news stories were about mass shootings in the United States. The first story was about Jared Loughner, who pled guilty to the shooting in Tucson, Arizona (January 2011), that killed six people, including a child, and wounded thirteen others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who as a result of her injuries was unable to continue her work in the United States House of Representatives.
The other story was about the psychiatric history of James Holmes, the movie-theater shooter in Aurora, Colorado (July 20, 2012). It seems his psychiatrist, Lynne Fenton, had contacted the University of Colorado police department as well as the university’s Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment team weeks before that shooting, saying that she perceived Holmes as a threat to others.
The two top stories, one after another, were about mass shootings-and two days before that, on August 5, 2012, the breaking news was about a third mass shooting in our country-in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee. Six members of the Sikh community there were killed while worshipping by a gunman named Wade Michael Page.
These stories, so frequent now that they almost blend together in our minds, always seem to focus on the personal sickness of the individual who committed the crime. Why don’t they ever focus on the sickness of a society in denial about the ever-more-dangerous gun culture in which we are raising our children?
I looked at some articles from newspapers in other countries-England, Japan, even Australia-and their reactions to our tolerance for guns range from bewildered to appalled.
People here in the United States say the same things every time: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” “The NRA just has too big a lobby.” And most recently, “In the current political climate, nothing is going to be done about it.”
How pathetic we are.
Colin Goddard included in his letter a list of school shootings in the United States since 1999-colleges and universities, high schools, and even some elementary schools. As I said earlier, there have been over one hundred school shootings in this country since the massacre at Columbine in 1999.
Haven’t we had enough?
Goddard and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence are working to stop the gun lobby from passing more and more laws, especially the “Guns of Campus” legislation and proposed laws that would allow concealed carry on school property, in the parking lots and on the playgrounds.
Maybe we can’t stop all the gun violence, but can’t we at least fight to keep guns away from our children at school?
We have to do that. We have to stop this insanity.