116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
In June 2016, I wrote a guest column asking “Where is the outrage about daily killings?” In that piece, I asked why we, individually and collectively, didn’t take action to reduce deaths by guns.
Since June 2016, nearly an additional 173,000 people have died by gun. Of this number approximately one third were victims of homicide and two thirds were victims of suicide. Mass shootings (those involving four or more victims) have become nearly a weekly occurrence. As a nation, we no longer stop to watch, listen and mourn the victims. We hear the news report, shake our heads, and go on about our daily business. Locally, The Gazette frequently carries articles or letters regarding violence, crime and the resulting fear.
How many more mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, loved ones need to die by gun before we join together and loudly shout “THIS HAS TO STOP!”?
How much longer do we need to enter our offices, shopping malls, movie theaters, churches and schools wondering in the back of our mind if we will be safe there, or will we be become the latest victim? What are we doing to our children when they have active shooter drills in their schools? When they see and hear about the violence on the news? When they sense their parent’s fear? Every person deserves to live, to be safe wherever they are, whoever they are with, and to know their loved ones are safe.
Enacting laws governing stricter access to guns, banning assault weapons, is one step. However, legislation is only one part of the problem and solution. Timely and continued access to mental health services is another part. What seems to be missing, and is critical to ending this violence, is a change in our attitudes. Our apathy over this violence, both criminal and intensely personal, this loss to our society, is the biggest problem. Recognizing that every person has worth, acknowledging their dignity, reaching out to each other for understanding, being kind and caring for every single one of us is the real solution to ending death by gun.
How many more of us must die before we change our hearts? Will I write in another five years that another 173,000, or more, of us have been killed or have taken our own life by gun? When we will finally say “THIS HAS TO STOP!” with one voice, one heart and build the community we are all entitled to?
Colleen Tobiason lives in Cedar Rapids.