The Answer on Guns is Staring Us in the Face
Where do we go next? What do we do now?
Those are the questions I found myself asking after I spoke to a panel of gun violence reduction activists this week. It was two nights after the murders in Boulder, a week after the rampage in Atlanta, and hours after the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee played out a drama so reliably scripted that it felt like even the players involved knew they were playing a role.
Even over Zoom, in the early hours of the evening, the frustration among my fellow panelists was palpable. I couldn’t see the slumped shoulders, but I could certainly feel them. There were some deep breaths. And a bit of gallows humor before these heroically dedicated volunteers - and they were all volunteers - plucked themselves up, and set about the endless work of trying to make a difference.
After every mass shooting - and they continued during the pandemic, even if you didn’t necessarily hear about them - our policy debate unfolds exactly the same way.
Gun violence reduction advocates in Washington D.C. and in state capitals across the land push for action. Opponents pretend to be horrified at the politicization of the issue, hollowly complain that it’s too soon to be talking about such things, and then nothing happens.
And the numbers are staggering. According to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, nearly 20,000 Americans lost their lives to gun violence last year, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. A further 24,000 died by suicide with a gun. It was the deadliest year in at least two decades, and it came on top of the catastrophic toll of the more than half-million we lost to the pandemic.
The accused shooter in Boulder allegedly carried out his murderous spree that claimed the lives of 10 people, including one police officer, with a weapon that was legally a pistol, but resembled a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, the Washington Post reported.
City officials in Boulder had previously banned assault-style weapons until a judge struck down the ordinance weeks before the shooting.
In his ruling, Judge Andrew Hartman determined that “only Colorado state (or federal) law can prohibit the possession, sale, and transfer of assault weapons and large capacity magazines,” Colorado Newsline, reported.
The people of Boulder moved on their own because their state lawmakers and their elected representatives in Washington wouldn’t do it for them.