Yes, the problem is guns. Yes, the problem is mental illness. Yes, the problem is the FBI and other institutions not doing their job. Yes, the problem is the culture of violence we have created in this country. Yes, the problem is people. Yes, the problem is the lack of funding for research. Yes, the problem is an unfettered NRA and all the politicians it has in its pocket. Yes, yes, yes.
The issue of gun violence in America is complex and highly charged. Few topics trigger such an immediate and powerful emotional response in people. But pointing our fingers at just one (or even two or three) root causes or factors serves no one. The real cause of this mess? There is only one right answer, and it is: all of the above.
We will never fix this if we continue to instinctually rush to whichever corner we have staked out for ourselves and start hurling accusations at those in other corners. We are going to have to come together in the middle and listen to each other. And we are going to have to engage in respectful and productive dialogue. We are going to have to be grown-ups.
Just as the problem is complex and multi-faceted, so will be the solution. Yes, we need more commonsense regulations. Yes, we need to do a better job of identifying and caring for the mentally ill and the marginalized among us. Yes, we need to look long and hard at the culture of violence we have created (including through films and video games). Yes, we need to repeal the Dickey amendment so that we can base our policies on careful research and hard facts. And, yes, let’s face it: No real progress is going to be made until we have reined in the unbridled power of the NRA and ended the stranglehold that it has on our legislators. The NRA casts itself as the protector of the Second Amendment, but what it in fact protects is the firearms industry. Until the NRA is unmasked and its unholy alliance with the arms industry broken, it will continue to profit on death, including the senseless deaths of children because it blocks even laws to require mandatory gun locks.
So, let's come together right now and fix this.
Our nation cannot continue to kick the can down the road when its citizens cannot even feel safe at a concert, in a movie theater, at a church meeting, in a school. The reality that we must not accept as inevitable is that U.S. citizens are 10 times more likely to die by gun death than in any other developed nation in the world. American women are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a firearm than women in any other developed nation. Over 33,000 deaths per annum in the U.S. are attributable to guns, and an utterly inexcusable 1,300 of those deaths are children.
These are not statistics we can live with. We must engage once and for all in a productive national conversation that leads to a real solution. It is long past time to fix this and to ensure that commonsense measures are put in place to safeguard what the Second Amendment was intended to safeguard: our priceless freedom and our even more precious lives.