Change the gun debate,
end THE GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC.

 

Enough is Enough. We Need a Paradigm Shift.

End this Epidemic at its Source.

A Full-On Crisis

Gun violence is among America’s most deadly and costly public health crises. It has exploded across the US in recent years—from mass shootings at concerts and supermarkets to school fights settled with a bullet. Most events draw little attention—while the injuries and toll pile up. (KFF Health News 3.6.24)

We now have a US Office of Gun Violence Prevention. Declaring “a full-on emergency,” Cal. Attorney General Rob Bonta said “to fight this epidemic, it’s going to take creative approaches and new action,” creating its own office. A Washington Post 9/11 editorial, “Residents are scared,” urged leaders to “cut the rhetoric and take a rigorous look at what is—and is not—working.”

“My response is, we have to stop it, so your children, your family, your friends can leave your home, walk the streets, go to the grocery store, and go to church to be safe from gun violence. There’s no excuse for this carnage.” (Pres. Joe Biden 1.12.24)
  • The crisis is growing ever more alarming and out of control.
    • Most Americans (62% vs. 31%) expect it to get worse over the next five years. (“Gun Violence Viewed as Major National Problem,” Pew 6.28.23)
    • “You step outside the U.S., and people think what is happening here is insane.” (Jon Lowy, Global Action on Gun Violence, New Yorker 1.31.24)
    • Before Labor Day 2022—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, NYSRPA v. Bruen, a “far-reaching setback.”
    • “Gun deaths have skyrocketed in recent years, a devastating trend that shows no sign of slowing.” (Robyn Thomas, Giffords Law Ctr. 1.27.22)
    • School shootings hit all-time highs a second year in a row, “a distressing portrayal of the dangers facing our kids today” says Sarah Sharps, Everytown for Gun Safety (USA TODAY 9.14.23). “More active shooter drills. Safe rooms. Bulletproof backpacks. The classroom is changing.” (CNN 9.22.23)
    • Brady’s Kris Brown in “One Nation, Packing Heat” (Bus. Wk 7.26.21) warns of “a dystopian universe where the only rational thing is to have a gun.”
    • California Gov. Gavin Newsom asked: “What the hell is going on in the United States?”
    • MomsDemand’s Shannon Watts tweeted: “So many shootings it’s hard to keep track.” Refusing to give up she asked: “WHAT IS THE OTHER OPTION?”

Addressing symptoms and not the disease is not working. Marginal reforms, as Fareed Zakaria said in a CNN Labor Day special, “Lessons on Guns,” are “umbrellas 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 its Source

Almost no one asks what changed to cause gun violence to explode in recent years. Since 2014, “excluding accidents and suicides, over 300,000 Americans have been shot, and nearly half have died. Millions more suffered trauma, as witnesses to shootings or as friends and family of victims. By every measure, the physical, financial and emotional toll of gun violence in our society is staggering.” (A. Papachristos, Dir., Inst. for Policy Research, Wash. Post 11.24.23). Including accidents and suicides, the toll more than doubles. Yet no one researches what changed.

To understand the real problem with guns in the USA just google ‘Argument turns deadly.’That tweet by A. Wiles replied to MomsDemand’s Watts, in disbelief an Oregon father of 3 was shot dead when his wiper fluid hit another car. On July 4th she tweeted a D.C. father of 2 was killed by a driver over grass clippings on his car. Most shootings are by law-abiding citizens. In August, a Cal. judge, arguing drunk, texted: “I just lost it. I shot my wife.” In September, an Okla. judge shot at 6 cars in road rage. In February, a Pa. judge shot her boyfriend. In April, a Nev. lawyer shot another dead at deposition. They occur anywhere. An argument left 22 shot, 1 dead at Kansas City’s Super Bowl parade, while disputes left 10 shot after Denver’s NBA title, 2 more at its parade.

“Anyone interested in gun policy should set a google alert for ‘shooting parking lot’. These are not gang shootings. Every day regular people get shot by armed civilians during disputes at malls, grocery stores, and shopping centers.” (K-12 School Shooting Database, 1.30.24)
“Nobody settles anything with fists anymore.” (bartender after mass shooting left 3 dead, 3 injured, Columbus Dispatch 5.18.24)
“Tragedies often begin with an argument. Instead of words or a punch, a gun is pulled.” (Wash. Post editorial, 3.25.22)
“Now we’re seeing what’s always been part of human conflict coupled with the accessibility of guns,” with “all ages using guns to resolve disagreements.” “Arguments that should be resolved through words” “end up with someone dead.” (Milwaukee police chief, 05.22)
  • The real problem is mixing guns with human conflict.

    Confrontations

    • Texas man, told his shooting made a neighbor’s baby cry, came over with his AR-15, killing 3 women, a man and boy (“A gun transforms another everyday interaction into carnage,” Eugene Robinson, Wash. Post. 5.2.23)
    • Fla. 78yo man, in fear of threatening neighbor, shot him dead in tree-trimming dispute (Wash. Post 9.20.23)
    • Mich. man shot for spitting in a sink (“unfathomable to take a human life for something so absurdly trivial,” Oakland Sheriff, Detroit News 2.22.24)

    Confrontations – Mistakes

    • 84yo white homeowner in Kansas City shot 16yo black youth who rang his doorbell by mistake (4.13.23)
    • Upstate NY homeowner shot woman who accidentally turned up the wrong driveway (4.15.23)
    • Austin man shot two girls getting into the wrong car after cheerleading practice (4.18.23

    Domestic violence

    • Pa. man sentenced for fatally shooting in a “fit of rage” his dad who “never paid attention to him” (2.8.24)

    Financial institutions

    • Louisville bank employee kills 5, wounds 8 at his Old National Bank branch (4.10.23)

    Legal profession

    • Cal. judge, arguing drunk, texted: “I just lost it. I shot my wife. I won’t be in tomorrow. I will be in custody” (8.3.23)
    • Okla. judge shot at 6 cars in road rage, and rammed a woman who cut him off (9.11.23)
    • Pa. judge shot her ex-boyfriend who tried to end their relationship (2.10.24)
    • Nev. lawyer shot opposing counsel and his wife dead at deposition over custody dispute (4.8.24)

    Medical facilities

    • Atlanta man opens fire with handgun in Northside Medical Midtown (5.3.23)

    Parking space

    • 5 shot over a Detroit parking spot, the same day a woman shot an Ann Arbor woman in another lot (CBS, FOX 5, 3.29.24)
    • Wis. man shoots relative in dispute over parking spot (WMTV15News.com 5.13.24)

    Restaurants & Fast Food

    • a spilled drink leaves 5 shot, including 2 dead at a Norfolk restaurant (3.19.22)
    • a dispute leaves 5 shot plus 2 dead at a Louisville restaurant (8.27.23)
    • a couple upset over a delayed WhataBurger order shot a Houston employee (KTRK 3.2.24)

    Road rage

    • (hourly tally @DefensiveGun: “Man arms himself to drive, becomes enraged at…”)
    • Okla. judge shot at 6 cars in road rage, and rammed a woman who cut him off (9.11.23)
    • motorist shot a San Antonio landscaper for blowing leaves onto his car (ksat.com 2.29.24)

    Sports events

    • 22 shot, 1 dead after argument at Kansas City’s Super Bowl parade, despite presence of 800 police (2.14.24)
    • 10 shot in dispute after Denver’s NBA title win, 2 more at its parade (6.12-15.24)
    • 20 shot in fights after a Milwaukee’s NBA playoff game (5.13.22)

What changed was the Supreme Court decision in D.C. v. Heller (2008), a “dramatic upheaval in the law” (Stevens, J., dissenting), that guaranteed law-abiding citizens a right to a gun in the home for self-defense. Striking D.C.’s ban on handguns—used in most shootings—Heller boosted gun sales, unleashed deregulation, and shackled gun control. After McDonald v. Chicago extended Heller nationwide in 2010, tossing bans in Chicago and other cities, gun proliferation and deaths increased, then accelerated, creating an unmistakable inflection across nearly every metric. (See graphs above and Problem Turns Epidemic)

This epidemic cannot be explained by mental health, poverty, inequality, youth, Covid-19 or crime. While factors, all were present before Heller and all are found in other nations with a fraction of our gun violence. None account for the surge in gun deaths and injuries after Heller (2008) as expanded in McDonald (2010). Or the spike in school shootings, generally flat for decades, whose sudden rise post-2008/2010 could not be more graphic:

What does explain the surge—and epidemic—is Heller, guaranteeing all “law-abiding citizens” a gun.

An historian Heller relied on, Joyce Malcolm, called such a right a “dangerous freedom.” An 1832 treatise it cited noted pistols often “turn a quarrel into a bloody affray.” Justice Breyer even warned, citing the American Journal of Psychiatry: “’Most murders are committed by law-abiding citizens, in spontaneous violence generated by anger, passion or intoxication.’” Granting law-abiding citizens a right to a gun, Heller turned those unable to control human impulses while armed into “criminals.”

“Many like to point out that most gun owners are law-abiding citizens. The problem is that any society as gun-saturated as ours isn’t going to see senseless violence just from criminals. It’s going to see senseless violence from people who were law-abiding citizens, until they used a gun to kill or maim someone.” (Jill Filipovic, CNN 4.19.23)
Empowering impulsive human beings with a constitutional right to guns is little different than giving them a constitutional right to drive drunkjust as deadly and unregulatable.

Heller’s Consequences

Heller’s impact is impossible to ignore, with American society unable to protect itself. Due to a court decision, we now face a devastating public safety and health crisis of escalating guns, deaths, injuries, and fear, and other destabilizing, costly effects.

Justice StevensJustice Stevens, deploring the “slaughter caused by the prevalence of guns,” disclosed all justices could forsee the “negative consequences” of Heller’s “radical change in the law,” and urged “overruling Heller is desperately needed.”
  • Record high guns, deaths, shootings

    • Record levels of firearms, now exceeding 400 million
    • “16 million people – 1 in 20 adults – own at least one AR-style rifle” (Wash. Post 12.28.23)
    • Records gun deaths, 25,198 by July 2023, set to pass 2021 all-time high of 45,080 (Gun Violence Archive)
    • Record mass shootings, 500+ killed by August 2023, the most in at least 10 years (Forbes 8.29.23)
    • Record high 818 mass shootings (4+ shot incl. shooter) in 2021—over 2 a day (Mass Shooting Tracker)
    • Record mass killings (4+ killed)—on average every 6.5 days (WSJ 4.23.23)
    • Record school shootings, new high again, “doubling in past year” (The Hill 9.14.23)
    • “Number of guns found in schools is soaring” (Wash. Post 10.16.23)
    • Soaring impulsive, angry, grievance, intoxicated shootings
    • Record domestic shootings of all ages, gender, race: partners, parents, grandparents, kids shooting each other
    • 46% of mass killings of 4 or more in 2015-22 were of intimate partners or family (Everytownresearch.org)
    • “Every day in America 41 children lose a parent to shootings”  Wash. Post 4.21.22
    • “People living in homes with firearms have higher risks for dying by homicide” (Annals of Internal Medicine 2022)
    • “Leading cause of death for children,” passing car crashes in 2017 NE J. Med. 4.20.22
    • “Child Gun Deaths Spiked 87% in 10 Years” (Forbes 10.13.23)
    • 2023 was the worst year on record for unintentional shootings of kids and teens (Everytownresearch.org)
    • “Each year 19,000 kids & teens are killed or injured, 3M exposed to gun violence” (Everytownresearch.org)
    • Record accidental, negligent shootings, “an average of 3.75 per day” (@GunDeaths 4.23.24)
    • Record suicides from gun access, 90% of attempts result in death vs. 4% of all others (Everytownresearch.org)
    • Suicides among children aged 10 to 14 tripled 2007-2020 WSJ June 5, 2022
    • “One quarter of all gun suicide victims had been drinking” (Johns Hopkins Ctr. for Gun Violence 1.30.24)
    • Record road rage shootings “surged more than 400%” between 2014 and 2023 (Trace 2.25.24)
    • Road rage shootings occur every 16 hrs (Everytown 3.20.23), doubling 2014-16, again 2017-21 (Trace 5.2.22)—even in response to flashed headlights (by domestic abuser now before Supreme Court in U.S. v. Rahimi)
    • Record armed carjackings, “rose for the sixth straight year in 2023” (Wash. Post 1.27.24)
    • “Alarming rise in carjackings” gives DoorDash, UberEats, Grubhub drivers trauma, anxiety (Wash. Post. 1.23.24)
    • Record fast-food shootings over botched orders or declined credit card (also in US v. Rahimi)
    • Record FBI background checks of 39 million firearms in 2020-2022
    • TSA gun seizures “soaring 6 times since 2008,” 93% found loaded Wash. Post 3.19.22, 10.12.23
  • A public living in fear

    • Devastated families and communities across the country
    • Domestic partners routinely threatened, injured, and killed despite protective orders
    • Elementary school students in active shooter drills, others March for Our Lives
    • “Imagine the stress, trauma and anxiety that a second active shooter lockdown in 16 days caused our students, faculty and staff.” (UNC chancellor, Wash. Post 9.13.23)
    • “Gun-wary schools are mandating clear backpacks” (Wash. Post 8.27.23)
    • “One third of K-12 parents are very worried a shooting could happen at their child’s school” (Pew 10.18.22)
    • Children routinely shot by guns flooding homes, playgrounds, school buses, athletic fields, streets
    • Schools, churches, businesses are hardened, screened, armed
    • Oxford, Mich.’s high school, where 4 students were killed, was fortified with 100 cameras and doors with bolts into the floor (Wash. Post 4/10/24)
    • Colleges wall off campuses, add security and guard booths (Wash. Post 10.12.23)
    • Medical facilities rattled by “violence uptick,” add campus police (WSJ 5.8.23)
    • Government offices add drills, text alerts, responder blueprints (Wash. Post 10.5.23)
    • “Voting offices, fearing worst” get ready with tourniquets, live shooter drills (Wash. Post 2.11.24)
    • Public spaces, neighborhoods, stores, restaurants, workplaces increasingly dangerous
    • In some neighborhoods, “‘everyone has a gun. Every weekend you hear gunshots. People shoot in their backyards, after they drink alcohol, men take out guns at house parties and shoot the ground'” (Wash. Post 4.30.23). “When the sun begins to set and liquor bottles begin to empty, ‘it sounds like a war zone—it’s that intense. You hear boom boom boom every night.'” (“Gunfire ubiquitous in Texas town,” Wash. Post 5.8.23)
    • With permitless carry, “‘It’s like walking on eggshells every day.'” (“Gunfire ubiquitous in Texas town,” Wash. Post 5.8.23).
    • Public transit shootings “rising across the country” Wash. Post 4.17.22
    • Bystander and accidental shootings becoming routine
    • “Fear of increasing crime a factor in shooting of strangers” (Wash. Post 5.1.23)
    • In nation’s capital, 3 in 10 residents do not feel safe Wash. Post 2.27.22
    • “Fatal shootings surge in D.C, frightening residents” (Wash. Post 8.7.23)
    • Driving public fears is a pernicious mix of widespread gun ownership, misconceptions about stand-your-ground laws, marketing of guns for self-defense, and growing sense of deteriorating safety (M.L. Paul, Wash. Post 5.8.23)
  • Destabilizing, costly, embarrassing effects

    • Pseudo-militia doubled post-2008, threatening governments, officials, elections
    • “Far-right radicalism is the nation’s top domestic threat” per FBI (Wash. Post 8.26.23)
    • Rising armed resistance to police, traffic stops, 911 calls
    • “4 officers fatally shot, 4 injured while serving warrant in Charlotte” (Wash. Post 4.30.24)
    • “Surging political threats menace US democracy” through violent tactics and swatting (Wash. Post 2.9.24)
    • Threats to judges quadrupled 2015-2021, sometimes deadly (U.S. Marshalls Service)
    • Security measures are “night and day” compared to the 1990s. “It’s a huge adjustment for your family. You pray there’s not a long-term impact” (Kavanaugh, J., 5.10.24). In 2022, an armed man at the justice’s home, upset by the Uvalde school shooting, was charged with attempted murder.
    • “I believe people when they say they want to hurt or kill us.” (Wisc. Justice Karofsky, Wash. Post 2.9.24)
    • “Deeply disturbing spike” in threats against federal and state officials, including judges and legislators (AG Garland 1.5.24), and shooting at Colo. Sup. Ct (1.2.24)
    • Record hate shootings and threats over race, gender, faith, politics
    • Stand Your Ground rights “cannot be nullified by a jury or prosecutor” (Tex. Gov. Abbott, pardoning man who killed BLM protester, 5.16.24)
    • Bills allow teachers to carry firearms, as in Tennessee after 6 students were shot at Nashville school (Wash. Post 4.24.24)
    • Calls for police in elementary schools as well as middle and high schools (Wash. Post 5.7.24)
    • Parents now prosecuted for their child’s misuse of guns (Wash. Post 2.9.24)
    • “Exacting a mental toll,” mass killings “leave Americans numb and fearful,” “many wondering: Am I next?” (Wash. Post 5.14.23)
    • “Across the country, more and more people are affected by multiple mass killings over the course of their lifetimes” (Wash. Post 4.3.23)
    • Record shooting injuries, requiring hospitalization, therapy, trauma care
    • “Shooting is a massive risk to hearing,” hearing loss from recreational guns is “epidemic” (Wash. Post 2.20.24)
    • Lax gun laws spark violent protests: “Perhaps this is the impact for change.” (Louisville mass shooter in killing 5, injuring 8, Wash. Post 1.23.24)
    • $557 billion in annual medical, insurance and government costs, or 2.6% of GDP (JAMA 2022)
    • Nation’s capital pays $1.5mm 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
    • “As longevity declines U.S. short on answers,” gun violence a “major factor” (Wash. Post 12.28.23, 1.14.24)
    • Wasteful litigation: 2,000+ cases applying Heller, not real 2nd Amendment
    • Legislative and electoral gridlock over even marginal reforms
    • Travel advisories issued for U.S., other nations deplore its “shameful” gun violence
    • Foreign governments sue U.S. manufacturers and dealers for exporting gun violence (New Yorker 1.31.24)
    • “American guns and extremism fuel global violence” (Trace 9.21.23)
 

'GOOD GUY WITH A GUN' ISN'T WORKING

MARGINAL GUN SAFETY ISN'T 'WINNING'

WE NEED A NEW SOLUTION AND APPROACH

A Real Solution

Galvanizing reform initiatives are not “winning.” Avoiding Heller and defeatist hand-wringing have not worked. Guns keep surging and shootings pile up. Legislative, community, and research efforts focused on gun safety are important, but modest measures cannot reverse a growing crisis or cure the real problem: too many guns in the hands of impulsive human beings.

“A society saturated with guns is a society living in fear of itself.” (X@EschewObtuse)
“The display of a gun instills fear in the average citizen [and] creates an immediate danger a violent response will ensue.” (McLaughlin v. US, 476 U.S. 16 (1986)).

We need a direct response and paradigm change. Heller—creating a dystopia where all citizens are armed—must be understood, challenged, and undone. It is time to see Heller as the series of glaring errors, omissions, and guesswork it is—a house of cards that cannot stand, even in this Court.

We can no longer accept the decision that gave us a gun crisis. Americans deserve to grow up and be safe from the threat of guns and gun violence, like prior generations, not pay with their lives for constitutional guesswork.
Thoughts, prayers, and social media posts aren’t going to solve the problem: we need action.” (Parkland survivor Sari Kaufman).
 

“If they continue to pursue a pathway of inaction, more people are going to die.”
(Parkland survivor Jaclyn Corin)

Help us overturn these flawed and dangerous decisions, and re-empower legislatures to end this needless crisis.

 

The Necessary Action

Heller and its progeny are egregiously wrong and must be overturned

American Enlightenment Project is the one organization dedicated to undoing Heller and educating the country in the lost meaning of the 2nd Amendment. After years of persistent effort, AEP is the one that can explain it. To learn more, visit About AEP, Problem Turns Epidemic, 2nd Amendment Explained, and Heller’s 2nd Amendment.

Will you join us? We need your help to bring court challenges to undo Heller and its epidemic.

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