Let’s fight gun violence

People weep and embrace near Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, December 14. Photo: CNN

People weep and embrace near Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, December 14. Photo: CNN

Today was a black Friday to people in Newton, a small Connecticut town which is just 2 ½ hours from Boston. This morning, I got up at 11 a.m. and the first news I got on my iPhone screen notified by CNN was the unthinkable shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton. A moment later, CNN updated the death toll to close to 20 and one hour later, it said at least 27 people, including 18 children were killed. A lot of questions came out of my mind: Why did the shooter do that? Why did he kill his mom? What drove him so crazy? How will people who lost their children and family members overcome this tragedy? …

It came less than two weeks before Christmas. This time of the year should be the happiest to people. I should have been happy because my fall semester was almost done today. But the shooting, though happened in a neighboring state, made me hesitant to go to school submitting my two final papers and hang out with my classmates this late afternoon. I just wanted to stay home because that way, I feel safer.

Children wait outside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, after the shooting. Photo: CNN

Children wait outside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, after the shooting. Photo: CNN

The 9:20 a.m. shooting was the second bloodshed in a week after the mall shooting in Salem, Oregon where one of my Vietnamese Fulbright fellow lives. It was the sixth mass killing this year following the Seattle shooting in May, murdering five people, the Aurora’s cinema shooting in July with 12 people slain, the Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin in August claiming 7, the Minneapolis company shooting in September killing five people. It was the United States’ second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre that claimed 33 lives in 2007, according to Fox News.

I believe you agree with me that it’s time to uproot the epidemic of gun violence. It’s time to erase the American image as one of the world’s most unsafe countries due to gun violence. It’s time to ask the U.S government to ban gun use by the public. Several countries can do it. Why can’t America do the same? Why does America still allow gun violence to kill people? Why can the U.S top many areas but not gun control? I find no reason for the U.S government officials to keep ignoring this urgent issue. They might forget that the American history witnessed the assassinations of four presidents: Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy.

Let’s see what Australia has done after a crazed gunman in Tasmania in 1996 killed 35 people and injured 21 other people. The Australian federal government persuaded all states and territories to implement tough new gun control laws. Under the National Firearms Agreement, firearms legislation was tightened nationwide. National registration of guns was imposed, and it became illegal to hold certain long guns that might be used in mass shootings.

Australia also implemented a mandatory buy-back program to reduce gun possession in the community. As a result of those efforts, gun suicides and homicides in Australia fell significantly. In 1996, the country saw 516 gun deaths, and that number reduced to less than half-225 deaths in 2008. Importantly, while the period of 1979-96 witnessed 13 mass shootings, there were no mass shootings in the last 16 years. Restrictive gun laws clearly make Australia less prone to gun violence.

Corinne McLaughlin, a student at the University of Hartford, bows her head during a candlelight vigil at Hartford, Connecticut's Bushnell Park on Friday, December 14, honoring the students and teachers who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School in nearby Newtown earlier in the day. Twenty-seven people are dead, including 20 children, after a deadly shooting rampage. Photo by CNN

Corinne McLaughlin, a student at the University of Hartford, bows her head during a candlelight vigil at Hartford, Connecticut’s Bushnell Park on Friday, December 14, honoring the students and teachers who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School in nearby Newtown earlier in the day. Twenty-seven people are dead, including 20 children, after a deadly shooting rampage. Photo by CNN

Now let’s take a look at the permissive gun laws in America. If you look at the number of gun homicides, you’ll be shocked and agree with me that there is no excuse to keep gun laws as permissive as they are. In 2008, gun homicides in the United States totaled 9,484, which is more than 42 times the number of gun-related deaths in Australia. And that’s only counting gun homicides, not including gun suicides, which are nearly twice the number of gun homicides. In 2005, the United States reported more than 17,000 gun suicides and 789 unintentional gun deaths. Meanwhile, there were just 147 gun suicides and 56 accidental gun deaths in Australia in the same year.

I believe that without federal strict gun ban laws in place, gun violence can kill any person in any place in this country, even in “safe” cities like Cambridge, Massachusetts. The shooting that unintentionally killed one teenager and critically injured another girl in early June 2012 has still haunted East Cambridge people. It was around 8 p.m. on Sunday night. Charlene Holmes and her friend were sitting on a porch of their neighbor’s house, and a drive-by gunman shot them. The 17-year-old Holmes passed away soon after people took them to hospital. Police said the gunman’s target was not two girls but the man sitting next to Holmes’ friend. If Massachusetts had a tougher gun control law, I believe that Holmes would certainly be able to return to her school as a junior. Her friend could attend the graduation in four days later.

President Barack Obama reacts to Connecticut School shooting. By WSJDigitalNetwork on Youtube

Tonight, reading an updated story on a Connecticut school shooting on Boston.com, I was glad that President Barack Obama, who has not made gun control a central part of his agenda, suggested that may now change. “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” he said.

I do hope the U.S government will act now to control gun use nationwide. I do wish there will be no more shooting in America which I will miss a lot after I finish my study next May. I would like to present my deepest condolences to families of shooting victims in Newton.

Read more:

– A Guide to Mass Shootings in America: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map

– A Look at Mass Shootings in the United States: http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/News/mass-shootings-rise-us/story?id=17978004#.UMxpLXfyrh0

(Black Friday, December/14/2012)

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