The Tragedies Due To Gun Violence Continue To Mount
It’s been a little over two weeks since gun violence made national headlines when a gunman opened fired at the UC Santa Barbara campus, killing six and wounding thirteen. Richard Martinez, the father of slain student Christopher Michaels-Martinez, rallied his community and the nation in the aftermath of the shooting to demand that “not one more” innocent life be lost.
“Not one more” has become the latest rallying cry for gun safety advocates, but the devastating truth of this epidemic is that an average of 33 Americans are murdered each and every day with a gun. There have been 117 mass shootings (in which at least 4 people are injured) in 2014 alone. And while not all tragedies get the same attention as others, they continue to mount up nonetheless. Here are a few events that have happened in just the last week:
- June 5, 2014: Mass shooting at Seattle Pacific University. A 19 year-old student was killed and three others were wounded when alleged gunman Aaron Ybarra walked into Otto Miller Hall on the Seattle Pacific University campus armed with a shotgun and opened fire. The gunman had 50 rounds of ammunition but had to stop and reload his magazine. When he did, another student was able to neutralize the shooter with pepper spray until he was taken into custody.
- June 6, 2014: Massive attack prevented at Georgia courthouse. Dennis Marx arrived at the Forsyth County Courthouse in Georgia armed with body armor, a gas mask, an assault rifle, an assortment of grenades, and “all kinds of ammunition.” Thankfully, he never made it inside. A nearly three-minute long gunfight Friday ended with Marx dead, after being confronted by a swarm of law enforcement officers.
- June 6-June 8, 2014: 23 people shot in Chicago. Over the weekend, 3 people were killed and 20 wounded by gunfire in the city of Chicago. That is an average of somebody getting shot less than every two-and-a-half hours. And that is standard in a city plagued with gang violence and illegal gun trafficking. Last weekend, 7 were killed and 20 wounded by gunfire.
- June 8, 2014: Married couple who embraced white supremacy kill three, including two police officers. Jerad and Amanda Miller walked into a Las Vegas pizza restaurant Sunday and shot and killed two police officers point-blank, then shot and killed a civilian outside a nearby Wal-Mart before taking their own lives. The couple embraced white supremacy and had strongly anti-government views. Jerad Miller spent time at Cliven Bundy’s ranch during the armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management last month, saying in a televised interview at the ranch that if federal agents were going to use violence against Bundy’s armed militiamen, “if that’s the language they want to speak, we’ll learn it.” Jerad Miller, a convicted felon, also tried to use Facebook to purchase a gun, exploiting a big gun law loophole that allows internet gun sales to avoid background checks. An estimated 25,000 guns are illegally sold to criminals over the internet each year because of this loophole.
- June 10, 2014: Gunman opens fire at Oregon high school, killing one. A gunman opened fire today at a high school in Portland, Oregon, killing one student and wounding a teacher. An assistant principal told students to go into lockdown mode, saying “this is not a drill.” The details surrounding this case are still developing. This is the 74th school shooting since Newtown less than 18 months ago.
BOTTOM LINE: We simply cannot let criminals and other dangerous people continue to have easy access to guns and expect a different result than the daily gun violence that rips apart our families and communities. There are common-sense and overwhelmingly popular steps we can take right now to help prevent the next tragedies before they happen. Meanwhile, all it takes for a convicted felon who has displayed radical and violent behaviors to get a military-grade weapon is a quick search of his online social network.