Joan Merriam: Will 34 be enough?
Thirty-four innocent people dead in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton.
Will that be enough for America to come to its senses and recognize that we have a serious problem with gun violence — and the hatred that feeds it — and actually do something about it?
I’d like to hope so … but realistically, I doubt it. And it absolutely sickens me to say that. After all, 17 died in Parkland and nothing was done.
Eleven died in Pittsburgh and nothing was done.
Fifty-eight died in Las Vegas and nothing was done.
Twenty-six died in Sutherland Springs and nothing was done.
Forty-nine died in Orlando and nothing was done.
Twenty-seven died at Sandy Hook — 20 of them children — and nothing was done.
Thirty-two died at Virginia Tech and nothing was done.
Most of these innocents were murdered by someone with an assault weapon. Often, someone whose mind was warped and twisted by the hatred that seems to permeate our culture today.
And that tells us something important: that the problem isn’t just guns. It’s not just mental health. It’s not just white nationalism and xenophobia. It’s everything together.
That, too, tells us something: that we need to take a holistic approach to solving the problem, where we look at all the elements that contribute to our contagion of gun violence.
We need to implement universal background checks, prohibit assault weapons, and close the gun show loophole.
We need to place more emphasis on and devote more of our national resources toward mental health, and work to end the stigma of mental illness that keeps people isolated and strangles their hope.
And we need to explicitly denounce the racial and ethnic hatred that nurtures the kind of domestic terrorism that shattered three American cities. We need to call racism for what it is, without apology, and condemn any leader whose rhetoric fuels hatred and discord.
But for today, my heart is sick, and my soul is tired.
Joan Merriam lives in Nevada City.
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