Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Gun Violence Review of 2015

2015 was another bloody year for America.  And, once again, our federal lawmakers have done nothing at all to staunch the flow of blood.  It is shameful.

On Christmas Day alone, there were at least 27 Americans shot and killed and 63 were wounded, according to the Washington Post:

The number of Americans killed in gun homicides on Christmas Day is comparable to the number of people killed in gun homicides in an entire year in places like Australia or Britain. The 27 people killed by guns in America on Christmas this year is equal to the total number of people killed in gun homicides in an entire year in Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Estonia, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Iceland, combined.
And, as pointed out by my blogging friend over at Common Gunsense, there were at least three murder/suicide shootings.

It's total insanity.  It's unacceptable.

Mass shootings of four or more people continue to increase.  The Reddit Mass Shooting Tracker has tracked at least 372 this year, as of this posting.  That's more than one a day in American!  Is this the America we wish to see??

You can see each and every one of them at the Mass Shootings Tracker page from the Gun Violence Archive site, where you can also find the map I posted here.

And it's no coincidence that gun sales are increasing as well.  I've posted before about how the increase in gun sales mirrors an increase in active shooter events.  As VOX has reported, 2015 promises to be a record year in gun sales.  And I've certainly noticed an uptick in shootings of all types.

One of those horrific mass shootings was, as you know, here in Oregon, at Umpqua Community College, with nine people killed and up to nine injured before the shooter killed himself.

The Trace has posted an article listing the 10 Americans Who Changed the Gun Debate in 2015, including a researcher, a conceal carry permit holder at the Umpqua shooting, a hunter fed up with the NRA, a mother of a shooting victim, a politician, a policy adviser, a lawyer on a landmark case, and others.

The Trace also posted some of the Most Powerful Sentences About Gun Violence published this year.  One of my favorites, by writer Dylan Matthews, regarding how some Conservatives don't want to "count" suicides in gun death data: 
Obviously there's tremendous variation in particular people's ethical frameworks, but where I come from, a death is a death.

Looking back over the year, I have to say that 2015 is the tipping point.  Momentum has built.  The public wants change like never before.  Sandy Hook was a wake-up call, and since then everyone is noticing the increase in mass shootings as, one after another, the horror passes from one location to another as the days pass.  More and more organizations are forming to keep up with the demand of people wanting to help with the change.  More voices are calling for reasonable gun violence prevention laws.

And Oregon is no exception.  This year Ceasefire Oregon and the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety, working with responsible legislators, passed and enacted a universal background check bill in Oregon, SB 941.  Now gun sellers have no excuses for selling guns to prohibited people, and those people are more likely to get caught.  Oregon passed a bill to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, SB 525.  And SB 385 also passed, allowing judges to prohibit guns being carried into courtrooms.  These bills "provided a beacon of hope for gun reform momentum."

Given that 40% of guns used in crimes come from private transfer, I think we should see a real change in the level of shootings here in Oregon in 2016 and beyond.

Pro-gun forces attempted, in a childish and vengeful abuse of the system, to recall four of the state legislators who sponsored SB 941.  All of those efforts failed miserably.  And over and over again, those forces supported pro-criminal efforts to "subvert" the system, and continue to call for their supporters to "defy" the laws on the books.  Clearly, we must continue our efforts to protect Oregonians against these pro-criminal, pro-gun forces and keep guns out of the wrong hands.

Ceasefire Oregon's Central Coast chapter has been very active, too, including a gun turn-in that brought in 138 unwanted but operational guns and 95 high-capacity ammo magazines.

What will 2016 bring?  On a national level, I expect to see a continued increase in grass-roots efforts to pass reasonable gun regulation laws.  If our stubborn and pro-gun lawmakers don't follow, we will vote them out!

As for Ceasefire Oregon, we have a plan to reduce gun violence by 30-50% in the next five years.  But your help is needed.  Together, we can find a new trajectory for our communities away from gun violence.  Let's make it a New Year's resolution!

ADDENDUM (1/1/16): A related article by the Washington Post:  "2015 was a grim year for American gun violence."