It’s June 20, 2016. At the time of this writing, there have been 187 mass shootings in the United States, including the June 12th shooting in Orlando, Florida that has gone down as the deadliest in our nation’s history.
It’s June 20, 2016, the 172nd day of the year. There have been 15 more mass shootings in 2016 than there have been days thus far.
That’s a lot of senseless death, but not without precedent. 2015 had 365 days and 371 mass shootings. No matter how you splice it, there are more mass shootings (defined as a shooting incident in which four or more people are hurt or killed) each year than days.
That’s a harrowing statistic.
A little over a week after the deadliest mass shooting in the United States, we’re engaging in the same tired narrative, speaking at each other over such details as sexual orientation, alleged terrorist ties, the weapons used, the state of mind of the shooter, and the reason why one man would stain his hands with the blood of over 100 innocent people.
We’ve had narratives like this before, each time without result. But each time this happens we learn something — the body count necessary to actually do something about the frequency of mass shootings in the United States hasn’t been reached yet.
How many bodies are enough?
The 17 in Binghamton weren’t enough.
The 28 in Newtown weren’t enough.
The 39 in San Bernardino weren’t enough.
The 49 in Blacksburg weren’t enough.
The 70 in Aurora weren’t enough.
The 103 in Orlando apparently aren’t enough.
For me, 34 in Columbine was enough. I was 11 and knew that something needed to be done to make sure this never happened again. A sixth grader with more sense than the men and women who make up Congress.
This is about more than partisan politics. This is about more than interpretations of the Second Amendment. This is about more than suspected terrorism, suspected homophobia, the efficacy of “gun-free zones,” and weapon availability. This is about the preservation of human life. It’s time for Congress to stop this divisive horseshit in which they’ve become adept and actually take all available steps to figure out why there are more mass shootings than days of the year.
If expanded background checks will help, then expand background checks. Don’t sit in front of microphones and cameras spouting garbage about how it will only come up if there is proof it will work.
If banning the possession and sale of long-barrel weapons designed for military use will help, then ban them. Don’t stand in front of your constituents and engage in NRA-friendly rhetoric.
If closing gun show loopholes will help, then close them. Don’t make speeches to donors about how mental health is the problem when the Dickey Amendment is responsible for a fundamental lack of empirical insight into the problem.
But so long as this continues to be a problem, we have no right to be reflective and in mourning for the victims of these tragedies. As a voter, if you want to see these mass shootings end, then vote for men and women who will work to educate themselves and end them. As a politician, if you want to see these mass shootings end, then educate yourself and work to end them, even if that doesn’t mean a gun ban.
Just fucking do something. Your prayers are unanswered. Your moments of silence are just time wasted that could be better spent stopping mass shootings. So long as nothing is done, the victims of these tragedies — from Colorado to New York to California to Texas to Florida, and everywhere in between — have died for nothing.
It’s reprehensible to forsake altruism for selfishness and so long as “I” and “me” are more important than “you” and “us,” we’ll keep counting bodies like days on the calendar.
Featured image is in the public domain.