28 days into 2014 and this is already promising to be another deadly year when it comes to gun violence. In the first 14 days of school this semester, there have already been seven school shootings in our nation. Compare that to last year’s statistics: 28 school shootings in 2013, the year after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT in December 2012 – which was supposed to be the year of gun control in the wake of the national tragedy where 20 students and six staff members were brutally murdered. President Obama demanded gun control reforms that made sense in last year’s State of the Union address. On the heels of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, Obama promised the nation mandatory background checks before gun purchases, more ways to keep guns out of the hands of the “bad guys,” and stricter gun laws in general.
America was ready for this reform after the events of December 2012, but none of it happened. The Senate completely voted down Obama’s proposals on gun control at a national level. At the state level, many laws passed. However, two-thirds of them actually loosened regulations on who can buy and sell guns. All of this despite the fact that, according to an April 2013 Gallup poll, 65% of Americans actually favor stricter background checks for gun sales.
The majority of our nation favors reasonable gun control measures, but the politicians in Washington are too worried about the money they get from the NRA and other pro-gun lobbies to effect any real change.
This problem goes much deeper than what we see in schools, though, as a teacher, that is what concerns me the most. There are an estimated 30,000 gun-related deaths each year in America. That’s one person every 17 minutes, according to the CDC. Also according to the CDC, that number includes 82 children under five years old who died from firearm-related injuries in 2010. And that doesn’t count injuries that alter the lives of 100,000 people each year. This is a widespread issue that effects every single one of us, and we deserve action.
President Obama is expected to tackle the issue of gun control in his State of the Union address tonight. I, along with the majority of Americans, know that these words will likely seem empty considering his plea for gun control last year and the Senate’s failure to act. Considering he asked for 41 different things last year and only three of them came to fruition (the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, Congress did not default on the nation’s debt and they passed a government funding bill earlier this month), I know that enacting gun control measures is going to be an uphill battle. However, the nation needs to hear these words from our president, even if it is seemingly futile. Then, we need to follow up and demand stricter gun control laws from our representatives. When the nation speaks, hopefully the politicians will listen.
Gabby Giffords, a former representative from Arizona who was shot in the head during a mass shooting at one of her political events, has the same idea. She has released a new ad calling on Americans to demand change when it comes to gun control laws. This ad is expected to air both before and after the State of the Union address tonight. Hopefully it will inspire our nation to enact the change we so desperately want to see.
Photo Credit: The Knowles Gallery