Less than a week ago, a reporter and a cameraman were killed on live television. The media was flooded with stories about the shooting throughout the week and into the weekend. But today, just six days later, the media has moved on. Today the headlines are about Miley Cyrus's outfits at the MTV music awards, Tom Brady and deflategate, and Donald Trump's latest outlandish comments.
Unfortunately, this pattern is incredibly normal. First we are shocked by the new and seemingly unique mass murder of the day (i.e reporters on live television, congresswoman in Tucson, 20 6- and 7-year-olds in elementary school, college student with a misogynist YouTube video, race motivated killing in a church), we read a few days of reporting and then we move on. What we don't see in the media is the every day toll of gun violence in this country.
Adam Ward and Alison Parker were not the only ones killed last Wednesday; 86 other Americans also lost their life that day due to gun violence. In fact today and every day an average of 86 Americans die from guns. Sixty-five are white. Fifty-eight commit suicide. Thirty are murdered. Seven are younger than 20-years-old. Twelve are women. (All statistics provided by the CDC Web-based injury statistics query and reporting system).
What's my point? In the five days the nation spent grieving Alison and Adam's deaths, 440 other Americans died by guns. And yet, as a nation we do nothing, except watch the special interest gun industry get away with murder without any accountability while their NRA shills buy and intimidate cowardly members of Congress. What is even more shocking is that, according to The Washington Post, the U.S. is averaging more than one mass shooting a day in 2015. Yet, we fail to even hold our elected officials accountable enough to require background checks for criminals and the mentally ill to purchase a firearm in over half of states.
After every high profile mass shooting, the NRA and its supporters in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail, blame mental illness versus asking the appropriate question -- how did the mentally ill person or criminal access firearms without a thorough background check or detection? The answer is simple: thanks to Congress, federal gun policy allows unrestricted gun access without a criminal background check or detection in over 30 states from private gun dealers at gun shows, online and out of car trunks and backpacks. Only federally licensed gun dealers are required to run a background check on gun purchasers, however criminals and the dangerously mentally ill know all too well, if you can't pass a background check, no worries, buy from a private gun dealer-no questions asked.
Not surprisingly, there is mental illness in Canada, Great Britain, Japan and every other developed country, yet these countries have a fraction of the amount of gun violence compared to the United States. The overriding difference is in American we tolerate unrestricted access to easily concealed handguns, military style assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines, by criminals and the mentally without detection. We reap what we sow and shame on us for not holding our elected officials accountable.
Like all of us, Alison Parker's father doesn't have the gene to bury his daughter and ever be the same. Yet he swore to do "whatever it takes" to end gun violence in America. But isn't it time we all swore to do "whatever it takes" to end gun violence in America? There is something every one of us can do to hold Congress and state legislators accountable for their self-serving choices. They have chosen to prioritize special interest gun industry campaign contributions over public health and safety from preventable gun violence. We can choose to vote, we can call and write letters, we can fund candidates who pledge to stand up to the gun lobby. And the media can publish the names and numbers of the daily toll of 86 more Americans killed from guns and an irresponsible and deadly national gun policy.