Sounding the Alarm Bells

by Joan Peterson

How can we be so cavalier and casual about the recent week-end’s carnage due to shootings? Does the public pay attention any more or have we become numb to what is happening around them? People have busy lives. I get that. I pay attention because I blog and because I am so involved. But getting people to understand that we don’t have to tolerate the 90 gun deaths a day is too important to let go. The corporate gun lobby doesn’t want us to know how many people are shot and killed or injured. Guns are dangerous. They are designed to kill people. Once we pass the stronger gun laws that the public wants and the conversation changes to talking about the awesome responsibility of gun ownership, it’s possible that fewer people may want to buy firearms.

Follow the money. Profit trumps saving lives.

Last Saturday, an Uber driver went on a spree shooting, allegedly in between passenger stops. 6 people are now senselessly and tragically dead in Kalamazoo, Michigan as a result:

New details emerged about the victims, ordinary people with no connection to Mr. Dalton, enjoying simple pleasures on an unseasonably warm day — taking a walk, eyeing cars at a dealership. Outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant, a makeshift memorial and yellow caution tape marked the site where four women were shot dead and a teenage girl seriously injured.

Lt. Dale Hinz of the Michigan State Police said the people who were shot outside the restaurant just before 10:30 p.m., in the last of three assaults, had dined there earlier in the evening. He said they had then car-pooled to a performance on Western Michigan University’s campus in Kalamazoo, leaving one car behind. Afterward, they returned to the restaurant. “They had just pulled into the parking lot and just gotten back to their respective vehicles” when they were shot, Lieutenant Hinz said.

This latest rampage was just one of 6 last week-end alone leaving 10 dead and 19 wounded. In addition to the spree/mass shootings, there were the usual shootings that happen on an hourly basis in homes, businesses, schools, churches, streets, in bars and restaurants and other places where Americans gather. More from the article:

According to data from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), 80 people were killed and 150 wounded by gunfire between Friday afternoon and Sunday night — a rate of more than one fatality per hour. The new figures bring the total of gun deaths in 2016 to 1,754, according to GVA’s count. An additional 3,437 people have been injured by bullets.

These numbers do not include suicides unless they are known to media sources.

These stunning numbers should be alarming. Are they? Common sense would tell us that losing this many people to one cause should sound some bells and lead to a major discussion about how to solve the problem. But common sense is subverted by some kind of prevailing opinion not supported by the majority of Americans, that doing anything about the gun violence epidemic would violate rights. Meanwhile, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has been taken from way too many victims of senseless shootings leaving devastating grief and sadness for the families, friends and communities.

And speaking of risks and responsibilities, how many more times will we see a “law abiding” gun owner and conceal carry permit holder lay his/her gun down in a home with children and have it end in a tragedy like this one?:

Neither of them noticed the little boy approach the table where Lonaker had left his .38 revolver. No one watched as he picked it up, the weapon clumsy and cold in his tiny hands. And no one saw him pull the trigger, sending a bullet flying toward his father.

With rights come responsibilities. More from the above linked article:

“Please keep your guns in a secure location out of reach of children,” his statement implored. “This was a tragic accident. Please make certain that firearms in your homes are not accessible to anyone — especially children. Many firearms accidents in the home can be prevented simply by making sure that firearms are kept unloaded and safely stored, with ammunition secured in a separate location. Please keep your guns in a secure location out of reach of children.

“This is a tragedy that is told and retold all across the country and a tragedy that can be avoided.”

Lonaker’s death is at least the 18th accidental shooting by an American child under age 10 this year, according to a Washington Post survey of news reports. Six of those incidents were fatal, and in every other one, the victim was also a child. In three cases, the person killed was the child who accidentally pulled the trigger.

This should not be the new normal. This is NOT normal anywhere else in the world. A 6 year old boy will never be the same because his own father left a gun within easy reach thinking nothing could possibly happen. The ripple effect of this tragedy will be wide and severe for all concerned.

Sound the bell for another senseless lost life due to bullets.

More vigils, More flowers. More candles. More bell ringings. More speeches about the ravages of gun violence. More avoidance by elected leaders and candidates. More people joining the club of gun violence victims and survivors.

Sound the bell. It’s past time for action. We have to be better than this and we’ve had #Enough.

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