Gun violence is now so pervasive in American society we’ve become numb to it.
A decade ago, occasional mass and school shootings drew outrage. Now surging to one or more a day, they draw little more than resigned “thoughts and prayers.”
“Gun deaths have skyrocketed in recent years, a devastating trend that shows no sign of slowing down.” (Robyn Thomas, Exec. Dir., Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 1.27.22)
Last year saw five more states, nearly half overall, pass laws allowing permitless carry, making it easier to carry a dangerous weapon than drive a car. Brady’s president, Kris Brown, laments “a dystopian universe where the only rational thing to do is to have a gun on you all the time.” “This problem is getting worse, not better.” (“One Nation, Packing Heat,” Bloomberg Bus. Week 7/26/21)
This June the Supreme Court is poised to toss New York’s 100-year law requiring “good cause” for a concealed-carry permit, in N.Y.S. Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen. At argument, Chief Justice Roberts said “the idea you need a license to exercise a right is unusual in the Bill of Rights.” Justice Breyer warned that if struck down, most Americans will be able to carry a loaded gun around the streets of any town “just for fun.”
School shootings spiked this year to four times the annual average since the deadliest high school shooting in 2018, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. “Thoughts, prayers, and social media posts aren’t going to solve the problem: we need action.” (Parkland survivor Sari Kaufman).
D.C. v. Heller (2008) (2008) turned a gun problem into a Gun Epidemic.
The numbers speak for themselves.
Though most Americans support limits like universal background checks, even minimal efforts to staunch the flow of guns are blocked. In D.C. v. Heller (2008) the Supreme Court found in the 2nd Amendment, for the first time in 200 years, an implied right to own a gun for self-defense. Striking down a ban on handguns in the home —the deadliest firearm used in most shootings —Heller boosted gun sales, shackled regulation, and unleashed deregulation. Emboldened gun-rights advocates in Congress and state legislatures now dismiss any discussion of limits as contrary to the constitutional rights of all citizens and a threat to freedom.
Heller – expanded nationwide by McDonald v. Chicago (2010) – is not solely responsible for the “Gun Epidemic,” declared by 2015. But as the enabler of surging proliferation and violence, and source of a new-found constitutional right being used to block sensible reform, Heller is central to it. Gun sales and gun violence increased and then accelerated, as seen in virtually every metric, with tragic, yet predictable, results.
Dissenting Justice Stevens, deploring the “slaughter caused by the prevalence of guns,” disclosed that all justices could forsee the “negative consequences” of Heller’s “radical change in the law.” He urged “overruling Heller is desperately needed,” calling it “the worst self-inflicted wound in Court history.”
Heller’s consequences are widespread. From escalating deaths and injuries to an American society unable to protect itself, its destabilizing effects are unprecedented.
All-time high of over 45,000 gun deaths in 2020 (CDC 1.7.22) —likely eclipsed in 2021
- All-time high of 818 mass shootings (4 or more shot) in 2021 —over 2 a day
- School shootings this year are on track to set a record [Newsweek 2.11.22]
- “Every day in America, at least 41 children lose a parent to shootings” [Wash. Post 4.21.22]
- For children aged 10 to 14, the suicide rate tripled from 2007 to 2020 [WSJ June 5, 2022]
- Road-rage shootings, every 17 hours, are worst on record, doubling 2014-2016 and again 2017-2021 [The Trace 5.2.22]
- Record gunshot woundings, requiring hospitalization, therapy, and trauma care
- Record suicides from ready access to guns
- Record FBI background checks of 39 million firearms in 2020 and 2021
- Gun violence “leading cause of death among U.S. children,” surpassing car crashes in 2017 [N.E. Journal of Medicine 4.20.22]
- Devastated families and communities
A public living in fear
- Elementary school students in active shooter drills, others march for their lives
- Schools, churches and businesses are being hardened and armed
- Abused domestic partners are killed, hurt or threatened with firearms=
- Children at risk: shot by guns flooding the home, or from witnessing gun violence
- Walking down the street, shopping, dining, using transit, and workplaces are getting dangerous
- Shootings “rising on public transit across the country” [Wash. Post 4.17.22]
- Stray bullet, bystander, and accidental shootings are becoming routine
- 3 in 10 residents in the nation’s capital do not feel safe [Wash. Post 2.27.22]
Deadly confrontations that otherwise would end in angry words
- Increasing impulsive, emotional, and drunken shootings
- Surging road-rage and drive-by shootings
- Deadlier hate crimes over race, religion, sexual orientation and politics
- Citizens resisting or shooting police in traffic stops or responses to 911 calls
- TSA gun seizures, an all-time high in 2021, “soared more than six times since 2008” [Wash. Post, 3.19.22]
- Armed “militia” intimidating governments, elections and protests
A costly, national embarrassment
- Other nations issue travel advisories for the U.S.
- The nation’s capital pays $1.5 million per fatal shooting, or $1 billion in 2021 [Wash.P. 4.22.22]
- “It takes more than 100 people to save a gunshot victim’s life” [BuzzFeedNews 4.29.22]
- $280 billion in annual health care, insurance and government costs, about 1.3% of GDP
- Wasted litigation: 2,000 cases applying Heller have nothing to do with the real 2nd Amendment
'GOOD GUY WITH A GUN' ISN'T WORKING
MARGINAL GUN SAFETY ISN'T 'WINNING'
WE NEED A NEW NEW PERSPECTIVE AND A NEW APPROACH
Heller truly is the elephant in the room. Not acknowledging it is a choice. Unfortunately mainstream gun control chooses not to recognize its deadly effects, which would undermine years of messaging that the country can live with its new constitutional right. We can’t, as the escalating carnage shows.
“Such a danger would rise exponentially as one moved the right from the home to the public square.” U.S. v. Masciandaro (4th Cir. 2011)
This June, if Bruen empowers Americans everywhere to joyride with a gun, what will mainstream gun control advocate then? It will be like trying to regulate drunk driving after the Supreme Court declared a right to drive drunk. It can’t be done.
The elephant in the room must be addressed. Mainstream gun control, research, and grassroots efforts serve important functions in their focus on “gun safety” and “gun violence prevention.” But a more fundamental response is required. The facts are clear. We urgently need real action.
“If they continue to pursue a pathway of inaction, more people are going to die.”
(Parkland survivor Jaclyn Corin)
Help us re-empower legislators to end the daily carnage and save lives.
Help us overturn these deeply-flawed and dangerous decisions, and an expected new one that will make this epidemic far worse.
The Necessary Action
This Heller-fueled epidemic has overtaken the country’s ability to manage it. We need an intervention.
Heller needs to be recognized for what it is and overturned. We as a nation can no longer accept the dangerous, flawed and “radical” decision that has led to the proliferation – unique in the world – of guns and gun violence.
That is the American Enlightenment Project’s mission. With your help we believe that by bringing court challenges to Heller we can effect real change and reverse this epidemic. If you agree, please support us in any way you can.
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