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OPINION: Thirteen thousand nine hundred and fifty-nine

by By Robert Box A Chaplain’s Perspective | May 17, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

My heart bleeds for all of the people who were shot so far this year in the United States! Statistics are all over the place regarding how many mass shootings have occurred in the United States so far this year, but suffice it to say all of them indicate too many. The FBI defines a mass shooting as one where at least four people are either killed or injured, but those figures do not account for how many others were affected below or above four people. The Gun Violence Archives list 13,959 people killed by guns so far this year in our country, with almost half of them by suicide. Of that member, 578 were either children or teenagers. The mass shooting that I have heard about most recently is from Allen, Texas, where a shooter killed at last eight people and wounded many more. Alabama recently had four young people killed and another 28 injured during a birthday party for a 16-year-old girl. Shortly before this, two people were killed and many more injured in a shooting in Louisville. This is terrible!

It's a little like one police chief said, "This is our town and we don't allow such things to go on around here." But they did! And, if we didn't believe this to be true, consider the recent shootings in Fort Smith, Fayetteville and even Bentonville. Shootings occur at schools, shopping malls, bars and even parties.

Did you realize that there have been more shooting incidents in the United States than anywhere else in the world? One current statistic that I saw listed the following: the United States 175, Russia 21, France eight, Germany five, United Kingdom one and China one. Remember that some of these countries also have ways of getting rid of people besides mass shootings. Also, many statistics do not count the shooter in their totals. The point is we have far too many shootings in our country.

Consider that there are more personal weapons of destruction in the United States than in any country in the world, and that people purchase them in order to protect themselves from being injured or killed by an assailant. This is discouraging when a person realizes that there are more mass shootings in the United States than anywhere else, this in the country where its Second Amendment rights allow almost anyone to own a weapon for self-protection.

Now, I am not a Constitutional scholar, but I am aware there is a controversy going on right now about what the early framers of the Constitution meant by the Second Amendment. I am sure a part of the original intention of the Second Amendment was to allow individuals the privilege of protecting themselves and their families, but the discussion beyond that is beyond my pay scale. However, history does record that most of the people alive when the Constitution was written were shooting muskets -- you know, those long barreled rifles that you had to use a ramrod to arm each time they were fired -- something that surely involves a few minutes.

I don't know about you, but I can assure you that if someone shot at me with a musket and missed, he or she wouldn't get off a second shot because I would be half a mile away by the time he reloaded. In other words, there were no mass shootings. The best a shooter could hope for was perhaps a single shot. There were no automatic rifles and handguns, shotguns, or weapons of mass destruction. Somehow those were developed and became a part of the Second Amendment.

Let me be honest. I do not have a good answer to the problem of mass shootings in the United States. However, there are a couple of things that are brutally true: (1) the ownership of firearms has not lessoned the number of mass shootings; they have increased shootings, and (2) jail sentences have never been a prevention against serious crime.

I happen to be a staunch supporter of Second Amendment rights, and grew up among all kinds of weapons, but I still have very serious doubts about allowing citizens to own army style weapons. These are not designed for self-protection or hunting; they are designed to be killing weapons, and we don't need more killings. Perhaps it's time to sit down without the powerful influence of the NRA and seriously discuss what we need to do in our country about mass shootings. I do not like living in the most dangerous country in the world, and I don't think you do either.

Print Headline: Thirteen thousand nine hundred and fifty-nine


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