When will it be enough?
by Terri Lee Freeman
President, National Civil Rights Museum
In the span of 24 hours America was shaken by the report of two mass shootings resulting in the deaths of 31 people – 22 killed at a WalMart in El Paso, TX and 9 killed in Dayton, OH in an entertainment district. Not unlike most everyone who breathes fresh air, my heart grieves for every family that said good-bye to their loved ones, not expecting it would be so final. But as a graduate of the University of Dayton, there was a sadness of familiarity… knowing the fun times that are supposed to be had in the Oregon District.
My heart grieves for our nation.
The shooting in Dayton was the 250th mass shooting so far in 2019. Mass shootings are classified as a shooting that impacts 4 or more individuals not including the shooter. The media dedicate significant airtime to these events, as they should. But we know that violent crime occurs every day at far too high a rate in cities and rural communities throughout the country.
The influence of guns in these deaths is significant. Based on a 2016 study conducted by the American Journal of Medicine, “…Americans are 10 times more likely to die as a result of a firearm compared to residents of other high-income countries.”
We are living in perilous times. Times where individuals have become emboldened in their hate and comfortable with spewing hateful rhetoric. Times where some people revel in violence and encourage it. We live in a time when mental health services are few and far between, yet we can order a firearm over the internet! We live in a time when we are recognizing the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) but we do very little, beyond punitive measures, to abate adverse adult behaviors.
So much of this tragic, senseless violence is based on fear, hate, revenge, inability to communicate and lack of coping skills. And it's escalating. The hate rhetoric needs to stop! It only motivates deadly irrational behavior.
Now, 51 years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., are the ideals of nonviolence and peace dead? What is the message in this senseless violence?
As we wrestle with the events of this past weekend, we ask why? Why the senseless violence and the many hundreds of tragedies continue since our first #stolenlives blog post in 2016, following 36 hours of senseless killings due to gun violence. We ask why and demand action from our policymakers. Gun violence is soaring, not abating.
Once again, we want to hear from you. In 2016, the response was more than we imagined with heart-filled tributes to loved ones gunned down. There were thousands. We want to know what your questions are and how you think we can stem this violence and value every life. Please join us at the National Civil Rights Museum, and help us create a living exhibit of your thoughts, feelings and solutions. #StolenLives