In my memoir, Not Your Father’s America: An Adventure Raising Triplets in a Country Being Changed by Greed, I write about a roughly 18-year window from 1995, when our triplet sons were born, until 2013. That’s when we watched them go off to college and our house suddenly became very quiet.
In the book, I comment on various alarming things that happened in the America we’re leaving to our sons during the 18 years we were raising them. Most are examples of how the wholesale deregulation of America across the past 40 years has given rise to new levels of greed and numerous tragic consequences.
Without the deregulation of Wall Street, you don’t get the economic collapse of 2008. The deregulation of the gas and oil industries contributed to the catastrophic Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; the deregulation of corporate governance led to the collapse of Enron and the loss of more than 28,000 jobs. The Supreme Court’s deregulation of campaign finance laws has resulted in the explosion of “dark money” in politics. You get the idea. You’ve lived through it, too.
There’s another example of massive corporate profits being made at devastating public expense that I didn’t include in the book – the plague of gun violence in America – arguably the greatest plague ever to afflict the United States, except for the COVID-19 virus.
Miraculously, gun violence didn’t touch our family, as it has so many thousands of families. Our children never attended a school where students were massacred. They never had “active shooter drills.”
The year before our boys were born in 1995, the Congress passed a ban on assault weapons in America. The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, commonly called the federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB and AWB 1994), which included a ban on high-capacity magazines, lasted for ten years, expiring in September 2004 because of a 10-year “sunset” provision.
The sun set alright – on thousands of American families left mourning the death of loved ones killed by assault weapons since 2004.
In just five years between 2004 and 2009, 142 Americans were killed in mass shootings. Since 2009, there have been 279 mass shootings in the United States, resulting in 1,576 people killed and 1,047 wounded, according to research from the activist organization, Everytown.org.
Mass shootings, where four or more people — not including the shooter — are injured or killed, have averaged more than one per day so far this year. Not a single week in 2022 has passed without at least four mass shootings. So far in 2022, there have been more than 300 mass shootings in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
The shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill. that left six people dead and dozens injured was one of 14 mass shootings over the long weekend. There have been just over 100 mass shootings since a murderous rampage at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas on May 24th left 19 children and two teachers dead.
Disturbingly, the majority of mass shootings are carried out by young killers between the ages of 18 and 25 using weapons of war – assault rifles capable of firing hundreds of bullets in seconds, from large magazines; these are guns specifically designed to eliminate people.
Why is this happening? One glaring reason: greed.
America’s gruesome glorification of guns is driven by greed. Greed on the part of gun manufacturers, gun dealers, gun collectors, and gun conventions.
Fact Worth Checking: 43 million guns were purchased by Americans in the last two years. 43 million.
There are now more guns in the US than there are people.
393.3 million. That’s how many guns were in U.S. civilians’ hands in 2018, about 120 guns for every 100 people, according to a study by the Swiss-based Small Arms Survey. Others place the number even higher, at 434 million in 2020.
In addition to immediately renewing a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, Congress should require current owners of assault weapons to register their guns and earn licenses, similar to current rules for owning a machine gun. Moreover, we need to require anyone purchasing a bullet-proof vest, tactical gear, and armored clothing to register at purchase. What are they buying it for? To go hunting for quail or deer? No, they’re going to hunt for people.
The carnage will not stop, and our children will not be safe anywhere in America until we outlaw the sale of weapons of war to ordinary citizens. Full stop.
Credit: The New Yorker cartoon by Paul Noth. © The New Yorker. All rights reserved.