America, are we numb to continuing gun violence?Feb 21, 2023 10:00AM ● By Karen Warrington
Just this week I viewed the media coverage of two mass shootings where 10 people died and five were critically injured. These shootings in Michigan and Mississippi were against the backdrop of, by my count, at least a dozen shootings this week in my home city. And, near the end of January this year there were already 39 mass shootings across the country. Television coverage of mass shootings and urban gun violence are reported almost as regularly as the weather. Have we all become numb to these bloody tragedies?
By definition gun violence includes violence committed by assault rifles, pistols, machine guns and shotguns. According to the Pew Research Center, more Americans died of gun related injuries in 2020 than any other year on record. About 1.4 million people died from firearms in the US between 1968 and 2011. That includes all deaths from a firearm, including suicide, homicide and accidents. Compared to 22 other “high-income” nations the US gun related homicide rate is 25 times higher.
But in a country where there are more firearms than people the tragic outcomes seem inevitable. According to the Small Arms Survey in 2017 the US population is around 326,474,000 compared to 393 million firearms in American households. That amounts to 120 guns for every American. In 2021 there were 18.8 million firearms sold in the US and the country’s firearm arm industry is worth approximately $28 billion.
Checking out a website marketed as the largest online gun auction site, I found a listing of the categories of firearms for sale. The list included: revolvers, semi auto pistols, bolt action rifles, semi auto rifles, semi auto shotguns, AK47 parts, AR15 parts, gun scopes, laser sights, machine guns and silencers. This is just a partial list!
As the death and serious injury from gun violence toll continues, seemingly we have, as a nation, developed almost a choreographed response to the deadly reality. From the time the latest gun tragedy is reported, the media descend on the location, a phalanx of police officials share the pertinent details of the tragedy, somber-faced politicians express that their thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families, and for about a week there are panels of crime experts on tv calling for increased gun legislation and the psychology of gun violence. But, what changes? Seemingly we as a nation are content to wait until the next gun tragedy and we then re-start the OMG exercise.
Sadly, basically nothing changes while the nation’s gun violence death toll continues to climb and gun sales increase.
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Karen Warrington has had a decades long career as a broadcast journalist, communications professional, performing artist, and documentary filmmaker. She has traveled extensively throughout Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. She is committed to being a voice for the African Diaspora.
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