This morning, after tending my sorrowful mother heart, I did some of the math I learned years ago in my entirely safe fourth grade classroom. Here’s what I came up with:
There have been 948 school shootings in the United States of America since 2003. This amounts to 49.8 school shootings per year. Almost 50 mass shootings in schools every year in our country! More than four school shootings per month, every year, for the past 19 years, on average. I was stunned…I asked myself, what have I done about this?
More of that math I can remember because I wasn’t in fear for my life: There have been 3500 mass shootings, mass murders, in the United States of America over that same period of time. I was again quite shocked to discover that this amounts to a horrific 184 mass shootings, mass murders in public spaces, per year! That is more than 15 mass murder incidents every month in the United States of America. That is three mass shootings in public spaces per week, with a few extras to tuck in here and there, for the past 19 years!
Are we afraid to go out into crowded public spaces yet? How do you feel sending your kids into school each morning? How about going shopping for food? Enjoying a crowded music performance? Or even praying with others in church? All of these previously safe, protected places are the scenes and settings of recent mass shootings. Dead people lying all around, blood everywhere, many so disfigured that DNA has to be used to identify them. In fact the majority of the most recent victims, children, have not yet been identified. This is our reality right now.
We are not safe in our public spaces and our children are not safe at school. How numb have we become that these facts are not enough to stop us in our tracks? To mobilize in masses? How traumatized are we that we are not out in the streets in every major city and small town and in front of the white house demanding change every single day?
Here’s some more numbers: 90% of the American people support safe gun legislation. We want safe gun regulation, background checks, mental health checks, whatever it takes to keep weaponry out of the hands of mentally unstable people who desire to hurt others.
As a result of this latest school shooting, the lives of 19 children and 2 teachers were taken, along with the life of their 18 year-old murderer. 17 others were injured, some critically. All told, some 311,000 American school children have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine in 1999.
One last important number: We currently have 50 United States law makers currently refusing to sign the bill sitting in front of them ensuring safe gun practices. A total of 19 current or recent Republican senators have received over 1 million dollars each in campaign contributions over their careers from the NRA (National Rifle Association) lobby, an organization for whom gun laws are anathema.
We are essentially being held hostage by largely Republican senators/congresspeople and the NRA. As long as we allow these two groups to bar any progress toward gun safety, we are going to continue seeing the loss of life in mass murder incidents. In fact, if you are paying close attention, you know these events are practically being encouraged now.
The time has come for us, the people of the United States of America, the 90% of us who support gun safety legislation, to become active and to stay active until this situation changes.
Our country is imploding under the strain of ongoing political and social degradation. The divide between us is thick and hostile. The time for waiting and hoping for change is over. Now it is time to act. There are many areas in need of attention and change related to this safety issue. Mental health, social services, education, to name three. There are plenty more satellite areas that need support and active and creative change makers. Pick an area of interest, empower yourself and get to work! Our common future depends on all of us becoming active now, today.
What have I done besides compose this message? I am calling for all the people in my local area to meet on our local action bridge on Saturday at 1pm dressed in black. I invite them to bring signs, drums and candles. And to be ready to discuss ideas for how to implement safety in our schools and public places. Locally. You can do this too! Make a scene, make a fuss, call attention to this issue until no one can look away anymore. Until no choice remains but to implement the positive changes being called for – being demanded.
I know this change will take years. And that in the meanwhile loss of life will continue to happen. But, if we begin to pick up the threads closest to us today and act in the ways that are within our reach, on the local level, we can make real change happen all across this land. I am counting on you. I am betting that you, like me, have reached your absolute limit and are ready to mobilize. Let’s do this thing! Let’s start today!
Please don’t go back to sleep when the shock and horror of this current event, coming so close on the heels of the previous mass shooting, has eased or go back to lfe and work as though nothing has happened. Please don’t reach for a substance or activity to numb the overwhelming pain of this moment. Please decide instead to step up, grab a microphone or a clip board or a cell phone and start calling your local allies together to work for the changes we so desperately need.
I’m leaning toward calling for a nation-wide stop work action, a nation-wide strike. As a friend said today, if we can show them that we will watch each other’s children, feed each other and otherwise support each other through a work strike, they will have no choice but to give us what we want – the bare minimum: schools and public spaces that are protected and safe from a mass murderer.
One last thought, and I think this is critically important, so I saved it for last: Encourage all good, ethical caring people to get on school boards, select boards, and governing boards at the local level. Get on one yourself. Step into positions of power in your community to effect positive change. Run for office and act on behalf of the common good and for the benefit of the people who elected you. We have got to change the climate in this country and I think we all realize now that this begins at the local level. Good luck as you move through your local geographical location, fully activated, inspired, mobilized and mobilizing others to create the kind of country we are proud to call our home. If we start today and keep going for a solid ten years we can revolutionize our world!
Much love, hope and many blessings, Gail Faith Edwards