Point of View
Rangel: How to end gun violence
By Rep. Charles B. Rangel
Gun violence is taking a massive toll on America. Less than three weeks ago, I welcomed two-time Grammy Award-winning artist Pras Michel of the Fugees, who joined me at a rally organized by Harlem Mothers SAVE (Stop Another Violent End), in honor of Gun Violence Awareness Month. Since then, a wave of tragic shootings has left 14 dead and 68 wounded in Chicago and, even closer to home, two hospitalized in the Bronx -— grimly reminding us of what our country struggles with on a daily basis and what we must do to put an end to this insanity.
Oftentimes, we only hear about the tragic deaths resulting from gun violence after a mass shooting. Sure enough, we have suffered far too many of these traumatic events. Since 1982, there have been at least 70 incidents, 12 of which involved school shootings and 33 of which have occurred since 2006. The majority of killers were mentally disturbed, and many displayed signs of it prior to their heinous crimes. In most cases, they obtained their weapons legally.
Yet, mass murders represent only a small fraction of America’s overall gun violence. I was saddened to learn that, on average, 32 Americans are murdered with guns every day, 140 are treated for gun assaults in an emergency room and 45 are shot or killed in accidents. It seems that we have all witnessed the immeasurable pain guns have inflicted on unsuspecting communities, and every day family members are forced to bury their loved ones long before their time.
What I find even more appalling is how often the lives of our youth are cut short by bullets. On average, eight children and teenagers are killed by guns every day. In fact, more pre-school aged children were killed by guns than police officers were in the line of duty in 2007.
There are between 270 to 310 million guns in the United States -— an astonishingly high number that is close to one firearm for every man, woman and child. Meanwhile, annual bullet production is 31 times our population. No other developed country in the world comes close to either the number of guns per capita or our rate of firearm-related deaths. Obviously, our country has far too many guns and the act of buying these guns is simply too easy.