While we mourn the victims on the fourth anniversary of the tragic shooting, our kids today, are no safer than the victims were on that day.
Friday, December 12th 2012, the day that shook the world, when a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and tragically claimed the lives of 20 children and six educators. Wednesday, December 12th, 2016, marked the four-year anniversary, time has passed, but several things remain the same. Our hearts still ache, fear still abounds, and the risk of this happening again in this country remains the exact same as it did on that day, because our laws on gun control have not changed. In fact the NRA has never been in a better position.
On that day horrible day, the Obama administration vowed, as many administrations have in the past after a mass shooting, to fight for justice for the victims, to help make this country a safer place by enacting stricter gun control. Since that day however, there have been at least 1,234 mass shootings, with at least 1,358 people killed and 4,888 wounded. According to United Nations data, the US has had an average of 29.7 firearm homicides per 1 million people, while countries such as Switzerland have 7.7, Canada have 5.1, and Germany have 1.9. Now it’s important to understand the difference in population. America makes up 4.4 percent of the global population, BUT, it possesses 42 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns, and that number is growing.
One of those 1,234 mass shootings occurred back in June at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando where 49 people were killed and 53 injured, the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in American history, and yet the most alarming number from this instance was “4” -- the number of measures proposed to curb gun sales after the shooting, and all four were rejected by the Senate in another display of congressional inaction after a mass shooting. The proposals voted on in June would have banned anyone on the no-fly list from purchasing a firearm and closed some background check loopholes. But of course these proposals were rejected, just like the result of the assault weapons ban proposed in response to the Sandy Hook shooting, that was rejected on April 17, 2013 by a vote of 60-40 against, with all but one Republican voting against it.
And now, as we edge ever closer to a new president, the most prominent movement on gun regulation since Sandy Hook has been toward less regulation. In fact, gun sales are at an all time high, loaded guns are now allowed into national parks, a decade-long ban that restricted passengers from taking unloaded guns in checked bags on trains was reversed. And a recent bill introduced by the Republican legislature in Washington State will, if passed, allow concealed carry weapons into stadiums.
Meanwhile, current NRA president Wayne LaPierre is proposing a federal law to require any state that issues permits for carrying concealed weapons to recognize similar permits issued by other states, even if those states have different eligibility and training requirements and even if they have less stringent restrictions on gun ownership.
So it is fair to say that gun laws are moving in the right direction for the NRA, especially with our new presidential-elect poised to take office. After all, the NRA spent $30 million this year to help elect Donald J. Trump and $10 million more backing six pro-gun Senate candidates, five of whom won, reinforcing the reality that the already bulletproof 2nd amendment has never been stronger than it is right now, four years after Sandy Hook.
Now it is worth noting that strides have been taken to increase awareness about recognizing signs of trouble before violence occurs. Programs such as Sandy Hook Promise, a gun violence prevention organization that was founded in 2013 have spearheaded efforts to assist in the training of students. This group played a huge part in helping to pass the Mental Health Reform Bill in the Senate earlier this month, which they see as a way to encourage people to get help before turning violent. Now while mental illness and the stigma surrounding it in the United States is a prominent issue that rightfully has to be addressed, it is ironic that this bill was passed by the same legislators who often use mental illness as a means to distract attention away from gun control. Rather than identify both as prominent contributors to these regular acts of evil. Because here is the reality, mental illness is an issue that affects many countries across the world, but the United States is unique, because it offers easy access to firearms, allowing for those who are suffering from mental illness to obtain firearms and carry out those atrocities, more so than all other western countries combined. But yet there are no mental illness promotion organizations keeping the conservatives’ pockets lined, which is why progress can be made in this realm, while gun control remains unchangeable and kids remain at risk to another Sandy Hook tragedy in the future.