Forty-nine people in Orlando. Thirty-two in Blacksburg. Twenty-six, including 20 children, in Newtown. Fourteen in San Bernardino. Thirteen in Littleton. Twelve in Aurora.
These are just a few of the high-profile mass shootings that have shocked the United States over the past two decades, but each day in places all across the country – in big cities and small towns – about 93 people die of gun-related injuries, often with little media coverage or national attention.
On Sunday night in Las Vegas, while thousands of concertgoers were enjoying a night of country music, this uniquely American bloodbath took the lives of at least 59 more, marking the 273rd mass shooting in 2017.
Enough is enough.
The same, tired expressions of sympathy we hear from our leaders – particularly from the many Republican lawmakers over the years who have helped put weapons of war in the hands of deranged individuals like Stephen Paddock – will no longer do.
The United States is not the only civilized nation on the planet with firearms or mentally unstable people, but we are the only advanced country that sees this level of gun violence on a regular basis.
Whether or not you own a gun, you should want to change that.
Think about it: There are national freak-outs when somebody gets burned by hot coffee, or when we discover a chemical in toys that could harm our kids. In these instances, we quickly move to change laws, tighten regulations, and better protect our people.
No solution to any problem is perfect, but in these instances at least we try.
So where the hell is the collective outrage each time there is a slaughter in an American school or concert or movie theater? When will we as a civilized society decide that human life is more important than being able to get our hands on a deadly weapon at a moment’s notice?
How much higher must the body count be before we change?
Study after study after study shows that smarter gun laws work. Other advanced countries that implement stricter firearm regulations – banning assault weapons, expanding background checks, increasing waiting periods, among other things – have found them to be incredibly effective.
Here in America, left-leaning states that have enacted smarter gun regulations have seen lower rates of gun violence – imagine that.
So if you think we actually need more guns, not less, and criticize any attempt to make this country safer as some sort of tyrannical assault on your second Second Amendment rights, not only are you wrong, but you probably spend too much time listening to the nonsense spewed by NRA-funded politicians.
Make no mistake: The gun lobby doesn’t care about our rights or our safety. All they want is for us to keep feeding money to the firearm manufacturers that keep them in business. That means keeping gun laws loose, no matter how many times we see this unspeakable violence splattered across our TV screens.
And to our evergrowing list of cowardly leaders – including our NRA-funded President of the United States – who pretend to care only in the immediate aftermath of these tragedies, save your empty prayers. When you repeatedly shed crocodile tears over mass shootings, then follow it up by refusing to do anything, nobody hears you anymore.
Your sympathetic rhetoric was useless after Orlando and Sandy Hook and Aurora and Tucson and Columbine, and it’ll be useless when you decide to spew it following the next mass shooting.
As former President Barack Obama said two years ago, almost on this very day, “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America.”
Tonight, dozens of people who were alive 24 hours ago no longer are. More families are being forced to go through this uniquely American ritual of mourning the loss of their loved ones after another mass shooting. And many of the leaders who were quick to offer their condolences – Donald Trump, in particular – will likely do nothing to try to prevent the next massacre.
It’s time for these spineless guardians of the status quo to either do something or shut up.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.