America’s Love/Hate Relationship with Violence

For the last few nights I’ve been sleepless. I have debated over and over again inside my head whether or not I should write about an extremely controversial subject on my blog. About a topic that divides and tears America apart and makes the rest of the world just shake their heads at us: Gun Control.

After much thought, I decided that as a mother and as an American citizen, I could no longer be silent and just share my beliefs over Facebook with my friends. Instead, I would put together an emotional piece on why I believe we should have gun control and why we must put more pressure on institutions such as the media, our mental health care system and society as a whole to change the deep-rooted, dark culture of violence in America.

It is an overwhelming topic. In fact, often I don’t even know where to start. So I am going to try to lay out my feelings and beliefs now and see if we can have a real conversation about guns and our love/hate relationship with violence in this nation. Whether you agree or disagree on my beliefs, it is up to you. But until we start having a real, honest dialogue about what is happening in our country nothing will change.

Photo and Image credit: Everytown USA

Photo and Image credit: Everytown USA

The facts:

Gun violence in the United States results in thousands of deaths and thousands more injuries annually.[1] *

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, firearms (excluding BB and pellet guns) were used in 84,258 nonfatal injuries (26.65 per 100,000 U.S. citizens) [2] 
  • 11,208 deaths by homicide (3.5 per 100,000)[3] 
  • 21,175 by suicide with a firearm,[4]
  • 505 deaths due to accidental discharge of a firearm,[4] 
  • 281 deaths due to firearms-use with “undetermined intent”[5] for a total of 33,169 deaths related to firearms (excluding firearm deaths due to legal intervention).
  • 1.3% of all deaths in the country were related to firearms.[1][6]
  • In 2010, gun violence cost U.S. taxpayers approximately $516 million in direct hospital costs.[12]
  • Despite widespread concern about the impacts of gun violence on public health, Congress has banned the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from conducting research on gun violence.[18]

*Above content from Wikepedia. I cross-checked every statistic and source for accuracy. 

Is this the world we want for our children?

Per Everytown for Gun Safety: "Since 2013, there have been at least 142 school shootings in America — an average of nearly one a week. How many more before our leaders pass common-sense laws to prevent gun violence and save lives? Communities all over the country live in fear of gun violence. That’s unacceptable. We should feel secure in sending our children to school — comforted by the knowledge that they’re safe.

Per Everytown for Gun Safety: “Since 2013, there have been at least 142 school shootings in America — an average of nearly one a week. How many more before our leaders pass common-sense laws to prevent gun violence and save lives? Communities all over the country live in fear of gun violence. That’s unacceptable. We should feel secure in sending our children to school — comforted by the knowledge that they’re safe”.

Perception versus Reality:

So why is it that people are more fearful of being killed in a terrorist attack or traveling to a “dangerous” country when there are more deaths by gun violence right outside our backdoor? Obama recently urged media to compare the number of deaths by gunfire each year to the total number of deaths from terrorism. The results were surprising. From 2004 to 2013 316,545 people died by firearms in the US. During that same period, the number of U.S. citizens killed overseas by terrorists was 277, while another 36 were killed in domestic acts of terrorism (Star Tribune Editorial “Placing the Blame on Another Mass Shooting”). My question is: Who is our government spending all our money on to fight? Yes, terrorism. What are we doing to fight our own mass killings in the US. Not much. 

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224883_434246943296552_1798921956_nHow many times do I have to try to tell you
That I’m sorry for the things I’ve done
But when I start to try to tell you
That’s when you have to tell me
Hey, this kind of trouble’s only just begun
I tell myself too many times
Why don’t you ever learn to keep your big mouth shut
That’s why it hurts so bad to hear the words
That keep on falling from your mouth
Falling from your mouth
Falling from your mouth
Tell me

I may be mad
I may be blind
I may be viciously unkind
But I can still read what you’re thinking
And I’ve heard it said too many times
That you’d be better off

Why can’t you see this boat is sinking
Let’s go down to the water’s edge
And we can cast away those doubts
Some things are better left unsaid

But they still turn me inside out
Turning inside out turning inside out
Tell me
Tell me
This is the book I never read
These are the words I never said
This is the path I’ll never tread
These are the dreams I’ll dream instead
This is the joy that’s seldom spread
These are the tears

The tears we shed
This is the fear
This is the dread
These are the contents of my head
And these are the years that we have spent
And this is what they represent
And this is how I feel
Do you know how I feel?
‘Cause I don’t think you know how I feel
I don’t think you know what I feel
I don’t think you know what I feel
You don’t know what I feel

-Annie Lennox, lyrics “Why”


Residents and members of the media at a vigil in Kauhajoki, Finland, one day after the September 23, 2008 shooting incident. Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons.


I am utterly heartbroken today by the tragedy that bestowed upon Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. What happened today is unimaginable. It is horrendous. Ugly. Cruel. And uncomprehensible.

As President Obama said holding back tears, there is “not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the overwhelming grief that I do.”

The fact that once again a young man opened fired on children in an elementary school is so sickening that I can hardly hold back my tears.

Can’t our children be safe anymore? Do they have to fear for their lives when they go to the one place they should be safe: School. The movies have already been ruined. The malls as well. Meanwhile schools continue to be hit by the unthinkable.

I don’t understand it.

Our world is becoming so insanely violent, and not only in America. Gratuitous violence is portrayed left and right in movies, on television and 24/7 on CNN. It is spread across the front pages of our newspapers on a daily basis and is found in children’s video games, books and toys. Our children are growing up in an everly increasing violent world, so violent that people are almost becoming immune to violence. It is disheartening and depressing.

You combine our violent world with the fact that in this county any kind of wacko can buy a semiautomatic gun off the internet without skipping a beat, makes my stomach lurch. Gun control is not the only answer but having some legislation in place to slow down the process would certainly help. Why on earth you can easily buy weapons meant to be used in warfare is sick. No one should be able to freely buy these kinds of killing machines.

I worry deeply about a growing problem of hatred and apathy among some young men. The last few mass shootings have all been performed by young, lost souls. The Connecticut school shooter was only 20 years old. The Oregon, shooter a mere 22 years old and described as “numb” before the attack.  The Colorado movie theater shooter who was only 25 and clearly a psychopath (how were the red flags in this case ignored?). The Virginia Tech shooter who took out dozens was a college student and then there is Colombine. Sadly, the list continues and never seems to stop. Why these young men kill innocent people and not just kill themselves makes absolutely no rational sense. To kill children, little ones, is even more sickening.

What bothers me immensely is that nothing seems to be getting done to change things and curtail the endless amounts of tragedies. Why aren’t we taking steps to tighten gun control? Why aren’t we putting more functioning systems in place to help deal with mental health issues? And why on earth do we live in a world that celebrates violence in almost everything we do? Why?

Of course I know these are complicated issues and aren’t easily solved. But we can certainly take some steps forward and stop ignoring the issues. It seems like each time a mass shooting happens, it creates a ripple effect on over to the “lunatics” out there who get an “ah ha” moment and copy it. Why not? In their sick heads where violence is glorified and gets plenty of attention (think CNN and Fox News, 24/7 coverage), it just feeds the frenzy.

My heart aches tonight for the parents who lost their young children. I walked into my children’s elementary school this afternoon to pick them up and had to hold back tears. My daughter, so sweet, so precious and innocent is in Kindergarten. Max is in second grade. Even the thought of something this atrocious happening in their school made my stomach ache and my eyes well up with tears. I don’t know how I could ever go on living.

Please say a prayer tonight for the 18 children and the adults who needlessly lost their lives. It is time we did something to end this world of violence. 

I’ll leave you with this one quote that I read and it broke my heart. All the kids wanted was to celebrate Christmas. They didn’t want to die.

First grade teacher Kaitlin Roig, 29, locked her 14 students in a class bathroom and listened to “tons of shooting” until police came to help.

“It was horrific,” Roig said. “I thought we were going to die.”

She said that the terrified kids were saying, “I just want Christmas…I don’t want to die. I just want to have Christmas.”

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