In 2015 and 2016, a tropical mosquito-transmitted disease infected some 42,000 Americans in the continental United States and its territories. There was a coordinated governmental effort to control and contain spread of the virus. Major League Baseball moved games from Puerto Rico to Miami in response to player concerns about the disease. Olympians withdrew from their respective teams rather than face exposure to the virus. Americans across the political spectrum purchased enough bug spray to kill Mothra.
And Zika is a non-fatal disease. No Americans died.
Imagine a similar disease that killed 100 Americans every day. Imagine a preventable, insect-borne pathogen killed indiscriminately: across racial and class lines, in the cities and in the countryside. Millionaires and paupers, men, women, and children: everybody was at risk, in public and at home, in schools and workplaces and walking down the street.
Now imagine there was a huge and influential lobby, claiming the only way to fight the disease was to introduce more diseases and fewer controls on this already deadly disease.
We’d tear it to the ground, right? We’d demand that our government do something, that it took affirmative action to stop this vicious assault on Americans.
So why in the name of all that is holy are we okay with nearly 35,000 gun deaths of Americans every year? Here are some indisputable facts:
- Every eighteen months, more Americans die from gunshots than were killed in the entire Vietnam war.
- Gun deaths since 1968 outnumber the total number of American deaths in all wars.
- Guns in the home increase the risk of suicide.
- Guns in the home increase the risk of homicide.
- For every time a gun is used in self defense, there are 22 other shootings which are not self-defense or justifiable shooting.
35,000 Americans annually, and our government is owned by the lobby screaming the equivalent of “stop regulating Zika! The cure to Zika is to pump Ebola into the population!”
Any other organization which enabled the same number of Americans to die every month as were killed in 9/11 would be labeled a terrorist organization and hunted to the far ends of the earth. We would spare no expense in bringing its leaders to justice. We would scorch the earth.
Instead, we have a political system owned by these very terrorists. Instead of doing everything possible to combat gun homicides, less than a month after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, Congress is trying to force all states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states.
The same Republicans who want gay marriage to be a state-by-state issue, who want abortion decided by the states, who bleat “States Rights” at every opportunity want to impugn the sovereignity of states who have the temerity to say “We are not owned by the bloody-handed NRA.”
And we must say “not until you pry our gun control from our cold, dead hands.”
Unfortunately, they are pretty good at killing.
Unless we are to remain a nation of hypocrites, a nation held under the sway of powerful terrorists, we must stand up to Congress. We must rip the NRA down brick by bloody brick. We must stand and say no more. No more Sandy Hooks. No more Pulse Nightclubs. No more Charlestons, Columbines, San Bernardinos. No more Las Vegases.
Contributing Editor: Ben Jackson
Ben Jackson is a writer and father of a chronically ill teenager who somehow still likes him. His non-fiction and opinion pieces have appeared in Patch Media, WBUR's Cognoscenti, and the Penmen Review. His fiction and poetry has been published in New Millennium Writings, The Legendary, 50 Word Stories, and anywhere else he can con an editor into buying his work. He lives in Natick, Massachusetts with his daughter.