by Sarah Mensch
Every day, 93 Americans are killed by gun violence. I am twenty-one years old. In my lifetime, more than 630,000 people have been killed by guns in the United States.
That many victims, many of them children, could fill NRG Stadium, where this year’s Super Bowl was held, about ten times.
In 1996, Congress eliminated $2.6 million from the budget of the Centers for Disease Control. That money was restored, but only with the stipulation that neither it, nor any other funding to the CDC, be used for research on gun violence and its effect on the American public. This makes obtaining reliable gun violence statistics difficult. Given the political power of the National Rifle Association, passing gun control legislation is even more difficult.
Earlier today Kathie Malley Morrison asked me if I personally knew any victims of gun violence. At first, I described myself as “one degree of separation” from several gun violence victims, but then remembered a former camp counselor of mine who was killed in late 2006. Kathie told me that years ago one of the girls who grew up in her small town neighborhood was shot and killed by her husband in front of their two small children.
With an average of 30,000 people killed by guns in the US each year, I think it would be hard to find someone who was more than one degree of separation from a victim of some sort of gun violence. Yet most people do absolutely nothing to prevent this violence.
The available gun violence statistics are dismal, to say the least. Americans are 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun than people in other developed nations. In 2016 alone, there were 58,205 instances of gun violence in the U.S. and there is no real end in sight—despite all the violence, 45% of Americans believe that Americans are safer with more guns rather than fewer.
Resolving to end gun violence in a country where the media flaunt and profit from portrayals of violence isn’t easy, but I want to suggest two ways readers of this article can help.
- Make a donation to Everytown For Gun Safety, a nonprofit gun safety advocacy group. Donations are tax-deductible. If you don’t want to contribute financially, consider signing up for Everytown’s mobile list of Gun Sense Activists for texts with ways to help make your community safer.
- When you hear about upcoming gun control legislation, go to this site to find out how to contact your state’s senators and representatives and tell them how you think they should vote. You’re their elector, which means you’re their boss. If calling your representative sounds intimidating, check out this comic for some easy guidelines for doing so .
Sarah Mensch is a psychology major at Boston University. She is thrilled to be working on a Directed Study focusing on the effect of the media on gun violence under the supervision of Dr. Malley Morrison. When Sarah graduates, she aims to go on to graduate school to earn an MSW and become a therapist. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys pursuing her minor in Deaf Studies, photography, and exploring Boston.