By John L. Horton
Sometimes, things don’t matter to us, unless they “directly” affect us, in one way or the other. For example, mass shootings could be one of these issues. These mass shootings have “directly” affected us in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and surrounding Virginia communities. According to “WalletHub,” Norfolk’s homicide and gun violence rating is number 8, among the “Top 50 American cities,” with populations of 100,000, or more.
Moreover, recently, mass shootings have occurred throughout our society: schools, hospitals, shopping malls, churches, grocery stores, hotels, concerts, night clubs, restaurants, sporting events, court rooms, residential communities, government buildings, recreational centers, and the like… As Dr. King so rightly stated: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…”
Let me begin by saying: I am an 81-year-old, African American, 30-year retired, Marine sergeant major, Vietnam combat veteran, 100 percent disability, who is a gun owner and professionally qualified shooter. I am supportive of responsible and accountable gun ownership. Therefore, I have a personal understanding and professional insight on various perspectives of substantive issues dealing with guns and the ongoing mass shootings affecting our contemporary society. Inasmuch, too many of our communities are being threatened and demoralized by these ongoing activities and occurrences. It has to stop! Something must be done…for “we” are (much) better than all this. Yes, we are!
Where does all this hatred, anger, fear and evil come from, especially from some of our youth? Many “excuses” have been given by our so-called “leaders” (politicians, social influencers, business, religious, prominent citizens, etc.): mental health, drug abuse, video games, faulty parenting, and the like. All kinds of “false flags” have been raised when it comes to this important topic.
America is not the only country where these “realities” exist; however, it is the only country that has these “mass shootings and societal violence.” Why, then is America the only country that exhibits this behavior and reality? Instead of “answers and solutions” from our “leadership,” we get more “division, delay and debilitation. We get more “discussions” (prayers and thoughts) about what could be, should be, and ought to be about “gun control” issues… Not much ever seems to change…at least for the overall betterment and/or satisfactory resolution of what ails us when it comes to the violent and corrosive realities that confront and/or buffet us…
However, it is obvious that the one common denominator is: Guns!
According to the FBI and other reliable government authorities, there are estimated to be over 400 million guns in the United States between police, the military, and American civilians. Over 393 million (approximately 98%) of those guns are in civilian hands, the equivalent of 120 firearms per 100 citizens. It is reported the average gun owning American has 5 firearms, while nearly 22% of gun owners have only a single firearm. Basically, America has more guns than people, or cars. (FBI and ATF Records, 2020).
A “mass shooting” is where four or more people are shot or killed, not including the shooter. So far, over 230 mass shootings have taken place this year (2022). Broadly speaking, this year, there has been at least one mass shooting every day; more than 8,000 persons have died; more than 400 children have been shot. (Gun Violence Archive and DOJ Statistics).
Accordingly, I would ask, do “we” really, truly care about any/all of this, when it comes to “our” children and youth? If so, when are we going to do “something” about it…meaningful, constructive and resolute? I firmly believe that “we” can do something about our present circumstances; otherwise, we are doomed for failure, and I refuse to accept that as an option. Simply put, we need to hold our “leadership” (political, governmental, economical, and others) accountable at the ballot box. This is not the only answer, but it is a direct way of letting them know how we feel about these issues, and what we want them to do about it.
Otherwise, we will continue to get what we deserve, for better or worse, one way or the other. And, we will “deserve” what(ever) they render unto us…we surely will…
The answer and time are here and now. It is truly up to us. We are it; it is we! Again, this is only one arrow in the quiver of solutions, but it is a direct plea and firm appeal from us, the voters. The “ultimatum” is simple: either “adhere” to what we ask of you…or be gone and replaced by someone who will… Regardless of how the vote turns out, the “majority” choice should be heard and their wishes carried out…for better or worse… Come the mid-term elections (November 2022) and general elections (November 2024), Vote, and our voices shall be heard, and we will, in more ways than one, get what we “truly deserve.”
Notably, we have many issues and problems that separate and divide us; therefore, we need to define strategies and implement solutions that bring us, together, as Americans. Yes, I sincerely believe that “we” can do this! As Ralph Waldo Emerson has stated and so many others have believed: “It is never too late to do right…”