Living in Fear and Gun Violence

Underneath the headlines about gun violence is the issue we're not talking about.

Too many people are living in fear.

It is fear that leads to the purchase of guns and to the tragic and utterly avoidable deaths of so many Americans.

Do you remember Michael Moore's movie "Bowling for Columbine" which explored the fear Americans have of crime?

He pointed out that the news media focuses on violence in a far greater proportion than it actually occurs. Statistic show that violent crime has decreased over the years, but according to Moore, coverage of violence crimes has increased in the media.

There exists a market that profits from our fear.

Fear sells. It sells security systems, guns, survival gear, newspapers, and draws an audience for the local nightly news. It fuels the military industrial complex.

But fear doesn't serve us as a community. It destroys us.

This country has lost so many people to gun violence.

The statistics are staggering.

Here are a few from the the National Center for for Injury Prevention & Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS) Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010, for National, Regional, and States (Dec. 2012)

  • In 2010, guns took the lives of 31,076 Americans in homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings. This is the equivalent of more than 85 deaths each day and more than three deaths each hour.
  • Guns were used in 19,392 suicides in the U.S. in 2010.
  • Over 50% of all suicides are committed with a firearm

In July, a five year old named Brandajah Smith got a hold of her a gun while her mother was out, put it against her forehead and pulled the trigger.

Stop and think about that for a moment, a five year old used a gun to kill herself.

She had so much despair that she was suicidal. She had enough exposure to guns and gun violence in her five years of life to know how a gun works and that guns kill.

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I also found it shocking and sad to see that America lost a young woman name Renisha McBride a few days ago.

Renisha's cell phone had lost power, she knocked on doors for help. It was early in the morning. She was injured. She was shot in the face on a porch by a 54 year old man.

She was unarmed.

There may have been a racial component to this shooting. Renisha is African American, it is presumed that the unnamed homeowner is white. A fair assumption given the demographics of the neighborhood where the incident occurred. Was the man afraid of the black person knocking on his door? Would he have been afraid of a white woman with blonde hair knocking on his door early in the morning?

What made him go to the front door with a shot gun? What could justify that?

He didn't have to answer the door at all. He could have called the police.

Initially the unnamed homeowner, (why hasn't he been named), said it was an accident. Now that he has an attorney, he's claiming that the shooting was justified.

What could justify killing an unarmed person looking for help?

Do stand your ground laws encourage people to use their guns?

The "Stand Your Ground" laws did not originate in state legislatures. They were written and proposed by the NRA through ALEC. It was the lobbying efforts of these groups which led to them becoming law.

Where has government by the people for the people gone?

Increasingly we have government for the powerful by the powerful and fear is being used to manipulate and control us.

Our legislative districts are being gerrymandered to give more power to the powerful and restrictive voter ID laws are disenfranchising Americans seeking to vote, we've been taught to fear voter fraud - which is a myth.

Thirteen years ago, I was one of those mothers who got on a bus and went to Washington, DC to march for gun control. The Million Mothers March was a peaceful protest. We did not face armed opposition.

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Today when Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, get together to organize in Texas, armed people men show up outside displaying their weapons in a "counter protest".

They are afraid of losing their guns.

They are so afraid of any sensible gun control laws that they are showing up with weapons to intimidate anyone who might curb their unfettered "rights".

Gun owners have heard over and over again from the gun lobby that any encroachment on gun owner rights could lead to the government taking away their weapons. It's even been said that the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) would result in guns being taken away.

Texas Governor Rick Perry supports gun owners rights to display their weapons in public at protests. He's probably going to head up a gun lobby group when he leaves office.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America urges us all to take action by contacting our legislatures and urging them to vote for commonsense gun control measures.

We need to do this, we need to take action on this issue.

But we must also look at the fear that is driving gun purchases and gun violence.

Americans need to stop being so afraid of each other.

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