Devastated. Shocked. Heartbroken.
Eventually you run out of adjectives to describe your feelings after witnessing another mass shooting. In fact, just writing the words “another mass shooting” sends chills down my spine.
“Another mass shooting,” “another school shooting,” “another domestic violence shooting.” This is the only country in the developed world where you hear these phrases, because Americans are 20 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countries.
Americans are 20 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countries.'
Wednesday's shooting at Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, was the 21st mass shooting of 2015. That means “another mass shooting” has been written 20 times already this year. And while mass shootings rightfully grab our attention, we must also remember that it’s not just mass shootings – it’s daily gun violence that kills 88 Americans and injures hundreds more every 24 hours.
This is not normal. We have the power to end this.
Of course we offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims and the communities devastated by all of these horrible tragedies. But thoughts and prayers are not enough -- we need to act.
There is no one thing that can stop every instance of gun violence in our country – California, after all, is one of the 18 states that requires background checks on all handgun sales. But it is simply not true that gun laws don’t make us all safer. The evidence is clear that common-sense laws keep guns away from dangerous people and save lives. Everytown for Gun Safety research shows us that In states that require background checks, there are 52% fewer mass shootings, 46% fewer women shot to death by intimate partners, and 48% fewer law enforcement officers killed with handguns.
So while the gun lobby will try to tell you that gun laws don’t work – and that criminals will get their hands on guns anyway – look at the facts, and then join us to make our communities safer. Since 2012's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, we have passed background check laws in six states. We are now working to pass background check ballot initiatives in Maine and Nevada.
We are also working to close the gap that allows suspected terrorists too legally purchase guns. Yes, it’s true: There are people we have deemed too dangerous to board an airplane but not too dangerous to arm themselves. As President Obama said Wednesday, “that law needs to change.”
Finally, we’re pushing back against the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda, and we’re seeing results. In fact, more than 60 gun lobby priority bills, including efforts to force guns onto college campuses, and even allow guns in K-12 schools, as well as efforts to let people carry hidden, loaded guns in public without a permit, were introduced and failed in states across the country earlier this year. The tide is turning.
Watching another mass shooting unfold, people are tempted to buy the gun lobby’s message that gun laws won’t stop any shootings, that there’s no way you can take on the NRA and win. But we can’t let the same people who have written our dangerous gun laws for decades take our eyes off the ball now.
Think, pray, but also act.
Shannon Watts is the mother of five children and the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown for Gun Safety.