After the Umpqua Community College shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, which occurred on October 1 and left ten dead and seven wounded, America sat up and noticed.
As we always do.
We were shocked, and we said so, and we prayed for the victims, and we denounced our legislators.
Since then, Mass Shooting Tracker has registered ten more mass shootings (fewer than one a day), and while these incidents received little coverage, our country seems to be growing increasingly impatient with the NRA's stranglehold on our politicians.
Last night, as I stumbled on these postings, I entertained the hope that maybe, just maybe, the prevention of gun-violence in this country is inching its way up the importance-scale in the lives of everyday Americans—what the statisticians call the "saliency" factor.
So it's time to share some good news. Here are three recent indications that we are making, in fact, real progress toward real solutions in preventing the senseless gun-violence in this country that many are now comparing to a disease. I'd recommend that you follow the links and read the articles because they contain a lot of important information that I couldn't include in this piece. Plus, you'll start to feel hopeful, and we all need that.
- A recent Gallup poll found that 55% of Americans support tighter laws surrounding the purchase of firearms. This figure represents a sharp rise of eight points from last year, and registers a year-long movement toward support for stricter controls. At the very least, this shows that the NRA's campaign to loosen our laws is no longer winning the hearts and minds of the American people.
- A study of the NRA's membership reveals that its constituency is moving toward extinction, or irrelevancy (only 7% of American gun-owners now belong to the organization). Largely white, male, rural, and comparatively uneducated, this demographic is being statistically diminished in the American population by the growth of Black, Hispanic, and to a lesser degree, Asian populations. The bad news for the NRA is that these groups support strict gun-control by substantial majorities. Add to these populations, the majority of other Americans who support stricter controls on firearms, and the NRA's future begins to resemble the Brontosaurus—large, unwieldy, and harmless.
- California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom recently unveiled a ballot initiative that, most significantly, would require background checks for the purchase of ammunition as well as ban possession of "large capacity" magazines. Most importantly, I would point to the fact that Newsom is explicitly taking on the gun lobbyists in his state, basing a political career on it, and bypassing the politicians who have been purchased by the NRA. He is trying to float this initiative because he believes the people of his state are ready for these changes. It's a creative work-around that must be giving nightmares to the NRA. This much is clear: Newsom now considers the NRA to be both vulnerable and aligned against the interests of the people of California. Even twelve months ago, this initiative would have seemed improbable, at least, if not impossible, and as we all know, as California goes . . .
So in the wake of the horrific shootings that crowd our daily calendar, is it overly optimistic to hope that the American people are waking up?
Is it too much to claim that we are realizing that the will of a distinct minority can no longer indulge its interests and line its pockets while the majority of the country suffers the devastating consequences of gun-violence at such a high and unjustifiable level?
I don't think so.
I think our country is righting itself once again, as it always has, and we can be proud of the hard work that many have undertaken to move us toward real and equitable solutions to this national problem.
Thanks to everyone who has helped! We are making progress.