How many more lives have to be gunned down?

brothers

Two brothers walking out on the family farm in November 2011.

I grew up in the Wild West … well, Tucson, Ariz. I didn’t grow about around guns. And frankly, I have never been comfortable around them.

I am not a fan of the Second Amendment. And I think a lot of people misread its meaning.

I will be honest. Because of my ignorance I used to think anyone who had a gun was crazy.

Then I married into a midwest family. They hunt. (And this isn’t a debate on eating animals or not, eating organic or not … etc.)

I realized that there are smart and responsible people who own guns and use them appropriately and responsibly.

My family is responsible when it comes to using firearms. My nephews have been taught how to shoot a gun, how to carry a gun and how to hold a gun. The same .22 the nephews learned on so did their dad and their uncle and their grandpa.

There are people out there who should NOT own guns. Guess what? I’m one of them.

There are unstable, mentally ill, angry, crazy people who have easy access to guns and they should NOT, I repeat they should NOT own or have access to guns.

I am not comfortable around guns and feel no need to have them in my home or in my presence.

If you do own a firearm you need to be responsible. You need to know how to use it and be comfortable with it. You also need to realize the power and consequence of owning and firing that gun.

In order to drive a car you start with a permit. You practice driving with your parents or guardian for a certain amount of hours. You then take a written and driving test. Once you pass you are given the privilege of having a driver’s license. (Initially with restrictions.) You have to be responsible. You have to have insurance if you own a car. If you get a ticket you pay a fine and sometimes need more training (aka traffic school). You can lose your privilege of having a driver’s license–temporarily or permanently. The goal of having a car is to get from point A to point B. But it is a huge responsibility and can hurt you or someone else or kill you or someone else.

Even though I will never own a gun and I am not comfortable around them I do believe if you want to own one you should be able to. With a few conditions. You need to pass a background check. You need to show that you are responsible. You need to show that you are stable. You should regularly go to the shooting range and practice your skills. You need to follow the rules and laws of being a gun owner. If you have children they need to educated on gun safety and clear on what the rules are. And you need to realize you could lose this privilege.

What I wrote about above is my opinion, which I believe I share with many.

Below are facts. You can’t deny cold-hard facts.

  • From 1970-2014 there were 3,521 deaths in the U.S. related to terrorism*
  • From Jan. 1, 2015 to Oct. 1, 2015 there were 9,948 homicide deaths in the U.S. related to gun violence.*
  • In 2013, there were 11,208 firearm homicides and 21,175 firearm suicides.*
  • The United States has four times as many gun-related homicides per capita as do Turkey and Switzerland, which are tied for third.**
  • The U.S. gun murder rate is about 20 times the average for all other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which includes all Western countries plus Turkey, Israel, Chile, Japan, and South Korea. (That means that Americans are 20 times as likely to be killed by a gun than is someone from another developed country.)**

*Information came from a Washington Post article, which attributes the data to Global Terrorism Database and Gun Violence Archive and CDC.

**Information came from a Washington post article, which attributes the data compiled by United Nations.

How many more Columbines, Sandy Hooks, Aurora, Colo. movie theater shootings, Tucson (my hometown) political eventsThurston High Schools,  Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Churches, Umpqua Community Colleges need to happen before we realize what the real issue is here?

When looking for links to various U.S. shootings I came upon this article, In the wake of Oregon massacre, here are 11 of the bloodiest school shootings since Columbine. That headline alone should scare the shit out of us. Wake up, America! This is an epidemic that we have to stop ignoring and hiding behind our rights as gun owners. Bullshit! Something needs to be done.

According to the New York Daily News the 11 bloodiest school shooting since Columbine, which happened on April 20, 1999, are:

  1. Littleton, Colo.: Columbine High School, April 20, 1999
  2. Santee, Calif.: Santana High School, March 5, 2001
  3. Red Lake, Mich.: Red Lake High School, March 21, 2005
  4. Nickel Mines, Penn: West Nickel Mines School, October 2006
  5. Blacksburg, Va.: Virginia Polytechnic Institute, April 16, 2007
  6. DeKalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois University, February 14, 2008
  7. Oakland, Calif.: Oikos University, April 2, 2012
  8. Santa Monica, Calif.: Santa Monica College, June 7, 2013
  9. Newtown, Conn: Sandy Hook Elementary School, Dec. 14, 2012
  10. Isla Vista, Calif.: University of California, Santa Barbara, May 2014
  11. Marysville, Wash.: Marysville Pilchuck High School, Oct. 24, 2014

I was working at the Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore., when on May 20, 1998 Kip Kinkel, who was 15 at the time, shot and killed his parents. The following day, May 21, he headed to his school, Thurston High School, in Springfield, Ore. where two students were killed and 25 others wounded. Kinkel was sentenced to more than 111 years in prison without the possibility of parole. (Information from the Statesman Journal.)

I was living in Phoenix when a University of Arizona (my alma mater) nursing student shot and killed three of his professors and then himself on Oct. 28, 2002. (Information from the Arizona Daily Wildcat.)

Back to my opinion …

Is your right to own a firearm more important than innocent lives lost at the hands of someone who had no business having access to any sort of weapon?

Look at that list of school shootings above! Look at the numbers: 9,948 deaths from gun-violent deaths in 2015. We still have three months left of 2015. In 44 years, there have been 3,521 deaths in the U.S. from terrorism. The U.S. gun murder rate is about 20 times the average for all other countries in the OECD.

Fact are facts! As a nation we need to change. NOW.

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