To the Editor:
For many years the rising numbers of mass killings by guns has surrounded me with sadness and ennui. The Gun Violence Archive has recorded 279 U.S. mass shootings this year. For Ohio the number is nine. Three years ago I was able to act publicly instead of retreating now.
In December 2018 some friends and I organized a gun safety symposium held at the Wood County District Public Library. We asked for and got an armed patrolman because we feared we might all be shot. Our panel included a member of the NRA, a professor of criminal justice and the founder of the Ohio Coalition against Gun Violence.
It’s impossible to know if that event, or any like it, saved lives. My most vivid memory was a woman who defended the widespread right to own guns. I asked her if she would change her mind, if her daughter had been killed by an assault weapon or someone who would not have passed a background check. She said, no.
My own malaise began to change when I read Sen. Chris Murphy’s book “The Violence inside Us.” I was moved by the because, after Sandy Hook and the death of 20 children and six adults, the senator overcame his own fear and filibustered on the Senate floor for more than 20 hours. This man alone has had the courage to call out the Republicans for petty political indifference.
This passage in Murphy’s book woke me up: “Our nation’s moral core is rotting away to nothing, each and every day that we allow this circus of human carnage to continue unabated. Today, the fact that mass shootings barely hold the national headlines for 24 hours is proof of how jaundiced we have become to the new normal of large-scale slaughter.
“Few bat an eye when over one weekend in Philadelphia or new Orleans or Baltimore, two dozen young people are shot, mostly over trivial disputes about girlfriends or petty grudges. Addiction rates and overdose deaths and suicides spiral into the stratosphere and political leaders throw a few more dollars toward treatment and then go back to their slumber. Our nation has chosen to anesthetize itself to human-on-human violence like no other country in the world.”
Clearly, the senator has used both clear thinking and deeply felt emotion to move forward.