In my mind, it is official. We are at war with the type of guns that have no other purpose than to kill people rapidly and in incredible numbers.
Although the guns don’t and can’t fire themselves, they were invented and developed for use to kill wartime enemies. They were meant to save the lives of those shooting them, so that wartime enemies could be killed faster by the shooter. But here at home, in El Paso, in four minutes, that shooter fired 154 bullets - one bullet every two seconds. In Dayton, in a short 30 seconds, that shooter killed nine people and wounded more than two dozen others – that means more than 30 bullets were fired in 30 seconds.
Those same rapid-fire weapons of war are being turned against all of us. Whether at worship or a festival, shopping or enjoying entertainment, in school or at yoga, at work or at a restaurant, we are no longer safe in our own neighborhoods or in our daily pursuits. We are targets for angry and disturbed shooters who bring these weapons of war to do their dirty work for them.
We know now a 2-month-old child was left an orphan after one of the last shootings. How can the tragic deaths of parents be explained without revealing the pain and anger we justly feel? Lives lost have left families in turmoil, in fear and never to be the same again. Children shopping for school supplies were innocent targets of the war gun. In another example of mayhem with a war gun, a 6-year-old and a 13-year-old were killed because the shooter said he was “really angry.” A 5-year-old child, whose mother and stepfather were killed in a mass shooting, asked her grandmother “Will they shoot me too?” What should our children expect from the adults who are meant to protect, teach and worry about them when it is time for school, and life?
Please don’t insult my intelligence by excusing this horrendous abuse of our Second Amendment. There is no excuse for 100-round magazines and guns invented to kill in wartime being used against any of us, under any circumstances. A “well-regulated militia” does not include individual shooters who take out anger, bias, individual enmity or revenge on others. A “well-regulated militia” was meant to protect us, not attack, injure and kill us.
Forty percent of all world guns are owned in the United States. There are 327.2 million people in the United States; there are 393 million guns, 120.5 guns for each 100 people.
As it has been noted, there are people with mental illness and violent video games and all the other excuses to be found in other countries, but very, very rarely are there mass shootings and never of the numbers and frequency as are found here. Yes, background checks, especially at gun shows, would help and might have thwarted some of the recent shootings. They were promised by the administration after the horrendous Parkland school shooting in 2018, but no further action has been taken.
Of course, there will always be private sales and street sales and robbery guns that can be acquired and used against us. The issue of universal background checks has been approved via tallies made by pollsters on behalf of more than three-fourths of those queried, including Republicans, Democrats, Independents and all others. But those minimal protections are not being voted upon. Why is that?
According to Charles Asher Small, founder of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism, “In the aftermath of the Second World War and from the ashes of the Holocaust, countries like Germany, Poland, Hungary, Austria, have passed hate legislation decades ago. And more recently, Canada and Mexico also have laws prohibiting hate speech against targeted, identifiable groups.”
Yet, here in America, anti-Semitic groups of white supremacists freely walk the streets shouting “Jews will not replace us” in protest of what some don’t even understand. Where does the limit of free speech, constitutionally protected, meet the limits of sanity and safety? Remember the adage that free speech should never permit yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater? Are cries of “fire” becoming louder due to the ease of communication on today’s social media?
We no longer live our usual daily lives without a second thought about safety. Today, my friend’s daughter said they would not attend the state fair with their two small children as originally planned for fear of something terrible happening to them. A recent motorcycle backfire in Times Square, mistaken for gunfire, sent hundreds of visitors and revelers and shoppers fleeing for their lives. A large falling sign inside a mall led to the fears a shooter was on the loose.
What kind of life are we giving our children, and our countrymen and women? One of unchecked gun violence and full-on domestic terrorism? Is that the kind we will continue to allow? And what will we do if it isn’t? Please choose carefully; your life may depend upon it!
Mel Kelly is a journalist, lifetime public official, former mayor of Carrabelle and a mother who worries greatly about the future being created for the children and grandchildren of tomorrow.