It has happened again, and this time in my own backyard. A mass shooting. The details, as I write this, are sketchy, but the basics are clear: two teenagers lie dead, and sixteen more folks (between the ages of twelve and twenty-seven) were injured, because bullets flew last night at a local club in Fort Myers. The boys were fourteen and sixteen, and attending a birthday party. A birthday party. Three suspects have been apprehended, but as of now no motive has been identified.
I realize that the issues may be very, very complicated. I've said as much on this very blog. But one fact is clear: guns were involved. Guns. I really want to be objective here. I really want to avoid sounding like someone who thinks the 2nd Amendment should be repealed. I really want to support the rights of hunters to engage in their sport. I really want to find compromises that will work. But the fact remains. Once again, guns--not knives, not bows and arrows, not fists, not bombs, not poison, not slingshots--but guns were involved. And frankly, there are just too many of them out there. Too many guns which are too readily accessible.
On average, 297 people are shot everyday in America. Every single day. On average, 89 people die because of gun violence. In America. In places like Baton Rouge and Dallas and Newtown and Orlando and Chicago and Fort Myers. (News-Press, 7-3-16, 5B) And we have got to do something about it. We've got to have the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and say "Enough! Fourteen and sixteen year olds shouldn't be dying because of gunfire. Twelve year olds should be able to go to a birthday party and not be injured by bullets."
It is not hopeless. It is not inevitable. It doesn't have to happen. But it will unless we do something. Of course we need to do address race relations. Yes, we need to address the poor state of our mental health system. Yes we need to address the problems of police relations with minority communities. But we also need to address the reality that there are just too many guns in America. Too many guns and too many ways to get hold of them.
Today, not tomorrow, today, each and every one of us who are concerned need to write to our representatives in government and say stop dithering. Have the courage to stand up for what's right. Because tomorrow it will be too late for 89 more people. And some of them may be only fourteen.