ACTION ALERT: Honor Dr. King; Raise Your Voice Against Gun Violence
January 16, 2012
Dennis Henigan / Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once observed that "Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that." On Sunday, the sad first anniversary of the Tucson shooting, many thousands of Americans joined together to light candles of remembrance and protest against the darkness of gun violence.
In One Year, Guns Murdered
17 people in Finland
35 in Australia
39 in England and Wales
60 in Spain
194 in Germany
200 in Canada
and 9,484 in the United States
Number of people shot in the US this year: 4,038
Number of people shot so far today: 258
Thousands Light Candles Against The Darkness of Gun Violence
Dennis Henigan / Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
(January 11, 2012) -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once observed that "Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that." On Sunday, the sad first anniversary of the Tucson shooting, many thousands of Americans joined together to light candles of remembrance and protest against the darkness of gun violence.
They lit candles of remembrance for the six killed in Tucson, including 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. They lit candles of remembrance and hope for the thirteen who were injured but survived, including the courageous Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who summoned the strength to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at a ceremony in Tucson.
They lit candles of remembrance for all the gun violence victims in our nation's recent history, over 500,000 murdered with guns since Dr. King fell to an assassin’s bullet in 1968.
They lit candles of protest as well. The candlelight vigil campaign, culminating in sixty-eight vigils and related events in twenty-two states and the District of Columbia on a single day, unified under the name TooManyVictims.
They sent a single message. Our nation has seen many victims of gun violence. It can no longer be endured. It must stop.
They lit candles from New York City to Chicago to L.A. They lit candles from Duluth to Austin. From Reading to Columbus to Eugene. They lit them in public parks, at courthouses, at city halls, in places of worship, even at barber shops and on street corners.
They lit candles at the National Historic Site honoring the Brown v. Board of Education decision in Topeka, Kansas, where Park Rangers honored one of their own -- Ranger Margaret Anderson, recently killed by gunfire in the line of duty at Mt. Rainier in Washington State.
And the victims' voices were heard.
Even those whose lives long ago were cut short by gunfire. Their loved ones stepped forward and told their stories. They told them to those who gathered with candles; they told them to the world through the Brady Campaign's website, www.toomanyvictims.org.
The question is: Are our political leaders listening? Too many of them hear only the intimidating drumbeat of the National Rifle Association and the gun extremists the NRA represents.
When a horrible shooting like Tucson happens, too many of our leaders freeze with fear -- not fear for the next innocent victims that may be struck down, but fear of gun lobby political reprisal against any politician who dares to call for sanity in our nation’s gun laws.
However "difficult" it is for a politician to stand up to the gun lobby, it is far more difficult for a parent to bury a child, for a sister to bury a brother.
Indeed, the fatal shooting of Park Ranger Anderson was a bitter reminder of the human cost of appeasing the gun lobby -- the Coburn Amendment passed two years ago legalizing loaded guns in national parks.
If Dr. King were alive today, he would have led a candlelight vigil against the devastation of gun violence. If more of our political leaders had a fraction of Dr. King's moral courage, countless lives could be saved.
The "Too Many Victims" candlelight vigils were only a beginning. Every American who is tired of cowardly politicians who dance to the NRA drummer should follow the path lit by those candles on Sunday by getting involved.
Join committed Americans like Yoko Ono, Beau Bridges, Lewis Black, Plaxico Burress and Kate Walsh, who all spoke out to say there have been too many victims and the killing must stop. Go to www.bradycampaign.org and you'll see how you can join with many thousands of other Americans to seek a safer America.
Dennis Henigan is the Acting President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the author of Lethal Logic: Exploding the Myths That Paralyze American Gun Policy (Potomac Books 2009).
THERE ARE TOO MANY VICTIMS OF GUN VIOLENCE because we make it too easy for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons in America.
IN ONE YEAR (all ages)
Almost 100,000 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, accidents, or by police intervention.
31,593 people died from gun violence
12,179 people murdered.
18,223 people killed themselves.
592 people killed accidentally.
326 killed by police intervention.
273 died but intent was not known.
IN ONE YEAR (ages 0-19)
66,769 people survived gun injuries
44,466 people injured in an attack.
3,013 people injured in a suicide attempt.
18,610 people shot accidentally.
679 people shot in a police intervention.
Almost 20,000 American children and teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, accidents, or by police intervention.
2,966 kids died from gun violence
2,037 children and teens murdered.
748 kids killed themselves.
123 children and teens killed accidentally.
19 killed by police intervention.
39 died but the intent was unknown.
14,008 kids survived gun injuries
10,038 injured in an attack.
165 injured in a suicide attempt.
3,588 shot accidentally.
218 shot in a police intervention.
EVERY DAY (on average)
Every day, 270 people in America, 47 of them children and teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, accidents, and police intervention.
Every day, 87 people die from gun violence, 33 of them murdered.
Every day, 8 children and teens die from gun violence.
Every day, 183 people are shot, but survive their gun injuries.
Every day, 38 children and teens are shot, but survive their gun injuries.
This average annual estimated composite picture of gun violence is based on death certificates and estimates from emergency room admissions. Years for deaths and for injuries are not the same because of reporting lags.
Source: CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (2008 (deaths) and 2009 (injuries), most recent year available as of 10/3/2011), www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars/.
Calculations by Brady Center, 10/12/2011. Numbers may not add to 100% because of rounding.
Gun Murders by Country
Last Updated: 10/12/2011
In one year, guns murdered 17 people in Finland, 35 in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 194 in Germany, 200 in Canada, and 9,484 in the United States.
The United States has weak gun laws. The other countries have strong gun laws.
Gun Murders by Country and Population Size
When the countries are compared on the basis of firearm homicides per 100,000 population, the United States remains an outlier.
In one year, the US firearm homicide rate was:
5 times that of Canada
10 times that of Finland
13 times that of Germany
19 times that of Australia
24 times that of Spain.
44 times that of England and Wales
A 2010 study affirmed this pattern:
US homicide rates were 6.9 times higher than 22 other populous, high-income countries combined. For a summary of the study, see: http://bradycampaign.org/studies/view/191.
Guns Used in Crime = More Deaths
Research indicates that the overall rate of crime in the United States is comparable to the rates in other developed countries (see Crime Is Not the Problem: Lethal Violence in America).
However, in part because of our weak gun laws, guns are used more often in crimes in the United States than in other countries, which means that more people die. This partly explains why, even when our homicide rates are low by historical US standards, they still are far higher than comparable countries.
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