Unwittingly, I became a member of a club no one wants to belong to early on a chilly Friday morning, December 14, 2012. I had never even heard of this club. There is no formal name for this group and we don't have a clubhouse. The members are from across the country, all races, ages and genders. We live in urban areas, the suburbs and rural communities. Yet we all met the memberships' one criterion, a life taken by gun violence. The price of admission to this club is bullets.
This week brought multiple challenges to move from outrage to action. On Tuesday, the dash cam video of the violent arrest of Sandra Bland was released; authorities later said autopsy results suggested she had committed suicide while in jail. But many questions remain, including why, already this year, an estimated 651 people have been killed by police -- 172 of them African American, 142 unarmed. Less questionable is that our justice system is broken, and in ways that inescapably involve race. On Thursday there was yet another mass shooting, this time in Lafayette, Louisiana. The gunman, despite having a long criminal record, had legally obtained his weapon. Just hours before the shooting, President Obama had said the "great frustration" of his presidency was not being able to pass "common-sense gun safety laws." As we move into the election season, it's time to put both of these critical issues on the front burner. Neither will change until we demand it.
A Fox News host speculated the Lafayette Theater shooter was a member of ISIS at first. The 700 Club said that they were "searching for answers" and merely described the shooter as a "drifter." But Houser was no ordinary drifter.
Refuse to speak the words gun violence. Call it domestic terrorism. That's what it really is. Like my father, we must have the courage to take a stand. Let's refuse to be bullied by the NRA and the gun industry and their wealthy donors and highly-paid lobbyists.
Every time there's a mass shooting like the one in the Louisiana movie theater, we see opinion pieces engaged in soul-searching -- but repeated efforts at gun control have failed miserably for decades and they'll keep failing no matter how much anguish we suffer.
If we are going to implement strategies to reduce public mass shootings, we have to keep in mind that we are not really going to reduce gun homicide rates in America. Just as in medicine, there is no one wonder drug that will reduce illness. So too is the case with criminal justice programs.
It has happened again, another "gun free zone" has attracted another murderer at a place intended for family entertainment. People in the Grand Theater on Johnston Street in Lafayette, Louisiana had that entertainment disrupted in a violent way, ending with 3 dead and 9 injured.
It's time to be reasonable. It's time to respect each others' lives as much as we respect each others' rights. It's time to require training and screening for all firearms.
As a society, we're armed and dangerous -- and always at war, both collectively and individually. We're endlessly declaring bad guys (officially and unofficially) and endlessly protecting ourselves from them, in the process guaranteeing that the violence continues. And the parallels between "them" and "us" are unnerving.
If the solution for preventing gun deaths results in more gun deaths, is it really a solution?
Presidential candidate Jeb Bush says he wants to overturn the ban on arming military recruiters, a response to the killing of five servicemen in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In doing so, he'll undo a policy enacted under his dad's administration, back in 1992.
According to military and civil police records, 3,989 firearms were collected in the first five months of 2015. Of these, roughly 80 percent were handguns.
Gun By Gun has crowdsourced more than $80,000, using the money to collect more than 750 guns in four cities over the course of five campaigns to end gun violence.
Major media outlets are referring to this situation as a "breakdown" in the background check system, but let's be honest and call this what it is: it's an NRA-designed loophole to undermine law enforcement's ability to restrict gun sales.
Crime statistics are up again in California. After years of improvement, the average citizen's risk of being a victim of crime is once again on the rise. We are no longer safer today than we were yesterday in the Golden State.
We are in the midst of a national crisis, and it's not random mass shootings or the killing of unarmed citizens. The crisis is that we have accepted these things as normal. This crisis is in our hearts.