A Full-On Crisis
Citing “a full-on state of emergency,” Cal. Attorney General Rob Bonta recently opened a Gun Violence Prevention office, saying “to fight this epidemic, it’s going to take creative approaches and new action.” The Washington Post in a 9/11 editorial, “Residents are scared,” urged leaders to “cut the rhetoric and take a rigorous look at what is—and is not—working.”
The crisis is growing ever more alarming and out of control.
- Before Labor Day—and its 18 mass shootings per Mass Shooting Tracker—Ellen Alberding of the Joyce Foundation cited the “unrelenting gun violence [and] Supreme Court decisions that steered our country off-course,” calling the latest this June, NYSRPA v. Bruen, a “far-reaching setback.”
- “Gun deaths have skyrocketed in recent years, a devastating trend that shows no sign of slowing down.” (Robyn Thomas, Giffords Law Center 1.27.22)
- Brady United’s Kris Brown in “One Nation, Packing Heat” (Bloomberg Bus. Wk 7.26.21) warned of “a dystopian universe where the only rational thing is to have a gun all the time.”
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom last year asked: “What the hell is going on in the United States?”
- MomsDemand’s Shannon Watts in April tweeted: “So many shootings it’s hard to keep track.” Refusing to throw in the towel she demanded: “WHAT IS THE OTHER OPTION?”
Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is not working. While the gun control community still puts hope over experience, citing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act after Uvalde, the reality is, as Fareed Zakaria noted in a CNN Labor Day special, “Lessons on Guns,” such marginal efforts are “an umbrella in a hurricane” that make “no perceptible difference.”
D.C. v. Heller (2008) turned a gun problem into a Gun Epidemic.
The numbers speak for themselves.
The Real Problem and Cause
“To understand the real problem with guns in the USA just google ‘Argument turns deadly.’ Angry people should not have a gun. Even normal people get angry.” (Andrew Wiles, 7.24.22). This was a reply to Watts, tweeting in disbelief that an Oregon father of three was shot dead after his windshield-wiper fluid landed on another car. Over July 4th she tweeted that a Washington, DC landscaper and father of 2 was killed by a motorist angered by grass clippings blown onto his car.
The real problem was cited after a spilled drink left 5 shot, 2 dead at a Norfolk restaurant: “Tragedies often begin with an argument. Instead of words or a punch, a gun is pulled.” (Wash. Post editorial 3.25.22). Milwaukee’s police chief summed it up in May after 20 were shot in fights at an NBA game: “Now we’re seeing what’s always been part of human conflict coupled with the accessibility of firearms.” “We have individuals of all ages using firearms to resolve their disagreements.” “Arguments that should be resolved through words” “end up where someone’s dead.”
What changed—accessibility—followed the Court’s decision in DC v. Heller (2008). Heller guaranteed for the first time a right to have a gun for self-defense, striking DC’s ban on handguns—the deadliest firearm used in most shootings—boosting gun sales, shackling gun control and unleashing deregulation. After McDonald v. Chicago expanded Heller nationwide in 2010, tossing bans in Chicago and other cities, gun proliferation and deaths increased and then accelerated, creating an unmistakable inflection post-2008 and 2010. It is shown in the graphs above and by common sense (before Heller’s right to a gun there was no epidemic).
This epidemic cannot be explained by mental health, poverty, inequality, youth, Covid-19 or “crime.” While contributing factors, all are found in other nations with a fraction of our gun violence. None explain the last decade’s surges in deaths and injuries as seen in virtually every metric.
What does explain the surges—and epidemic—is Heller’s right of all “law-abiding citzens” to have a gun. Even the historian it relied on called it a “dangerous freedom.” Justice Breyer also warned that “most murders are committed by law-abiding citizens where spontaneous violence is generated by anger, passion or intoxication.” Empowering all citizens, Heller turned those unable to control their impulses while armed into criminals. Such rising “crime” is crime Heller created.
Consequences Impossible to Ignore
In the last decade the consequences of Heller have become impossible to ignore. American society, unable to protect itself, now faces a full-on crisis of escalating violence, fear, and other destabilizing effects.
Record high gun deaths and frequency of shootings
- All-time high of 45,080 gun deaths in 2021 (Gun Violence Archive)
- Record high 818 mass shootings (4+ shot) in 2021—over 2 a day (Mass Shooting Tracker)
- School shootings this year on track to set another 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 2007-2020 WSJ June 5, 2022
- Road-rage shootings every 17 hours, worst on record, doubled 2014-2016 and again 2017-2021 Trace 5.2.22
- Record 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
- TSA gun seizures,all-time high in 2021, “soared more than 6 times since 2008” Wash. Post 3.19.22
- “Leading cause of death among US children,” surpassing car crashes in 2017 NE J. 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 killed, injured or threatened with guns
- Children at risk: shot by guns flooding the home or witnessing gun violence
- Walking in public, shopping, dining, 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 now routine
- 3 in 10 residents in nation’s capital do not feel safe Wash. Post 2.27.22
Deadly confrontations and destabilizing effects
- Soaring impulsive, angry and drunken shootings
- Surging road-rage and drive-by shootings
- Deadlier hate over race, gender, religion, politics
- Resisting police in traffic stops or 911 calls
- Private militia doubled since 2008, threatening governments, officials, elections, public protests
A costly, national embarrassment
- Other nations issue travel advisories for the US
- The nation’s capital pays $1.5 million per fatal shooting, $1 billion in 2021 Wash. Post 4.22.22
- “It takes more than 100 people to save a gunshot victim’s life” BuzzFeed 4.29.22
- $280 billion in annual health care, insurance and government costs, about 1.3% of GDP
- Wasteful litigation: 2,000 cases applying Heller, not the real 2nd Amendment
'GOOD GUY WITH A GUN' ISN'T WORKING
MARGINAL GUN SAFETY ISN'T 'WINNING'
WE NEED A NEW PERSPECTIVE AND APPROACH
The Real Solution
Mainstream gun control, research and grassroots efforts serve important functions in their focus on “gun safety” and “gun violence prevention.” But modest reforms don’t address the real problem: Heller’s guarantee of a gun for self-defense, and Americans using them while angry. Empowering impulsive human beings with guns is little different than giving them a right to drive drunk, and just as dangerous and unregulatable.
The Necessary Action
Heller needs to be recognized for what it is and overturned. This Heller-fueled crisis has overtaken the country’s ability to manage it.
That is the American Enlightenment Project’s mission. We as a nation can no longer accept the flawed, “radical” and dangerous decision that has led to an epidemic—unique in the world—of guns and gun violence.
Learn more about AEP and What AEP Does, and see 2nd Amendment Explained and Heller’s 2nd Amendment.
Please support us in any way you can. With your help we can bring the necessary court challenges to Heller (and Bruen) and end this epidemic.
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