A gunman killed 27 today at a Connecticut elementary school, most of the victims young children. This tragedy is the latest in a sad history of high-profile massacres, which have recently included shootings at the Aurora movie theater and Oak Creek Sikh temple. Gun violence in America is an issue where the numbers are actually even more depressing than the occasional attention-grabbing headlines. Per the CDC there are more than 11,000 deaths from firearm homicides in the U.S. per year. Even accounting for our large population, our ratio of firearm-related death rates (9.00 per 100,000 people) is astronomically higher than the rest of the developed world -- more than double neighboring Canada's (4.78), 40 times the United Kingdom's (0.22), and 128 times Japan's (0.07)!
Yet no major national-level political leaders (NYC's billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg comes closest) have asked Americans to challenge the gun lobby's sick fetish for unfettered gun access, more guns, more powerful guns, and carrying guns in more locations.1 In increasingly vocal terms, the American public is fed up with inaction. Highlighting the absurd is a post I saw on Facebook: "ONE jackass tries to light his shoe on fire, and every air traveler has to remove their shoes at airport. A gunman, like many before him, shoots up a ton of innocent people and there's nothing that can be done?" (For all the hype that terrorism gets, keep in mind that in the 10 years after 9/11, only 16 Americans were killed from terrorist attacks in the U.S.)