We can take steps to limit losses from gun violence

I have been in the security-loss prevention profession for over 46 years. During this tenure I have had the opportunity to teach many classes on gun violence prevention. The subject matter and need has never been as compelling and as urgent as it is today. I reference at times a July 1989 cover story from Time magazine in which its ran a landmark story of “Death by Gun” which covered one week of gun fatalities: 460 people in the United States. The story included a wrenching 28-page portfolio and information of all 460 victims. At the end of the story the authors asked how a civilized nation could allow such sustained slaughter to endure.

This Time magazine article was written over 32 years ago. And the subsequent weekly death by gun onslaught has actually increased and gotten far worse. Today at least 124 people will die from gun violence. This includes 61-plus suicides and 5 to 10 children a day. And this tally does not include the hundreds who survive their wounds but are crippled or maimed for life.

The problem and challenge facing all of us is that we are entering a perfect storm where we will see unprecedented levels and increases in gun violence unless reasoned and sane and practical measures are taken to stem and mitigate the slaughter that has cast such a dark cloud over the nation. The perfect storm includes both a historic and unprecedented surge of mental illness among the young and record numbers of depression among adults.

The suicide by gun tragedy will only increase to numbers unimaginable. Add to this the damning political polarization that has engulfed the nation and the increase of hate groups coast to coast and we are facing a domestic terror threat that the Department of Homeland Security regards as our number one threat. And finally look at the unprecedented spike in gun sales nation wide-and the kind of weaponry being sold.

There is a way out of this madness and tragedy. Reasoned proposals include a total ban on all assault rifles and universal back ground checks. We should also pursue weapon buy-backs from citizens both on a state and federal level where weapons are bought back and destroyed. And we need to look at teaching all children and teens at the elementary, middle, and high school levels conflict resolution and verbal de-escalation.

“Anger is a letter short of danger” resonates when reviewing the countless and preventable gun tragedies we see daily. The July 1989 issue of Time magazine that chronicles just one week of death by gun is as powerful today as the time when it first appeared. We have seen the problem get increasingly worse. The situation today is dire and unless people act with conviction and pragmatic solutions we will be entering into an era of unspeakable gun violence. The time to act is now.

Jim Sawyer


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