"You decide to get sick on a day where 27 people get slaughtered..." said my fill-in host Christine Craft as she prepped to take my shift on my syndicated radio show.
My first thought? They'll be another, it's not a once-in-a-lifetime event, unfortunately.
You see, I was on air the day of Columbine, on KFI AM 640 at the time, talking to a girl hunkered under her desk, waiting for help. How my producer got that phone number I'll never know. Then I was on site in Santee, CA, when a shooter went berserk there as well. After that, my late husband and on-air partner Andrew Howard and I decided we weren't going to cover these events any more, because too many people were copying them and the coverage only helped, in our opinion.
Mall shooting in Portland, school shooting in Connecticut, a nation tries to make sense of the violence. Sad part is, there is no sense to be made. It is a simple fact of life that in a society where there are more guns than people, this type of event is destined to happen; I'm always amazed it doesn't happen more -- daily, for that matter. Given the economy and other tensions.
But why is it our attention is only drawn to these? 122 people have died this year in Oakland, CA alone, a majority from gun violence with the youngest being two-years-old. That's more than the school, the mall and Aurora, CO movie theater combined. According to the Daily Beast there are approximately 87 gun deaths per day on average in America; per day, we lose almost 100 people to gun violence.
Now the screaming will begin about gun control, but that's all it is; rhetoric. The fact is the genie is out of the bottle, America will never be gun free in the foreseeable future. The government would have to institute a door-to-door policy of searching every home, every building, everywhere, weekly, for years, before all the guns were gotten. And even then, more would come in from some place. We excel at guns, make them, sell them; from consumer weapons to weapons of war, the U.S. is a major gun supplier to the world.
And we pay the price, today, with the blood of children; everyday, with the blood of children.
Should there be tougher gun laws? Yes. Should guns be more technologically advanced so only the registered owner can shoot them? Yes. Should this be treated as a public health issue, like auto safety? Of course, as a recent article published by doctors that helped in Aurora will attest.
But when the gun smoke settles the NRA will continue to exert their control over our leaders and not much will be done. Because there isn't the will to do it. Until you've had a gun pointed at you (I have), until you've been told by police to go to your bathroom and get in the bathtub because of shots fired in the neighborhood (bathrooms are usually inner rooms and tubs are often metal, and yes, I've gotten in one with my family) or until you've lost someone to gun violence, many still believe it is someone else's problem.
And then a shooting happens where many are killed and suddenly, for a moment, everyone feels vulnerable.
So, the sad fact is that all we can do is grieve. These lawmakers can't agree on how to keep the nation's finances moving, let alone how to solve the gun crisis. The stranglehold the NRA has on the government could only be broken with a huge amount of political will and public support, and it's just not there.
So we, and our children, will continue to die in incidents like this until America wakes up and gets serious; until it demands more from gun makers and from legislators, until the NRA is, yes, say it with me, impotent when it comes to law.
Throughout human history mad men have attacked and killed other innocents; with guns, swords, cannons, bombs and whatever weapons they could muster. In America, guns are easy to get, they have no built-in safeguards to prevent them from firing or being used for harm and a strong political lobby that supports the right to have weapons that fire hundreds of rounds a minute. We are a violent society, banning images of nudity but promoting images of death and destruction.
And our chickens are coming home to roost. Years of bickering, of ignoring common sense and of political strong-arming are literally killing us more than any other nation in the world that has guns. It's not just the weapons, it's us.
We are to blame every time this happens and our continued avoidance of the issue and inability to actually move forward with meaningful change will continue to kill us, including our children.
We can't eliminate all the guns in our society in a week, month or year. But we certainly can keep military grade weapons, rapid fire weapons, military grade ammunition and other such items out of the hands of civilians. And there are many other real steps we could take as outlined by experts far more versed in this than I am. But the NRA won't let us, or their political minions.
I hope they're proud today, and every day. Guns DO kill people (so sick of the mantra "guns don't kill people, people do"), 87 people a day, and this week, it was kids. Until we can at least get to that step, the rest of the fight is moot.
As a nation we mourn. As a people, we're failing.