“Some will say that our nation must accept this as the new normal. It's not true.”
On Friday, just one day before America’s worst mass shooting ever, former CIA director David Petraeus, retired U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal, former NSA director Michael Hayden and dozens of former and current members of the U.S. armed services banded together to push lawmakers for tougher gun control laws.
Omar Mateen, the shooter in this weekend’s appalling attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, was able to purchase an assault rifle despite being investigated twice by the FBI. This raises the same glaringly obvious question that comes up with every new senseless tragedy—why is it so easy for Americans to buy firearms?
The new group, named Veterans Coalition for Common Sense, is largely made up of 3- and 4-star generals and admirals. Following Sunday morning’s shooting at Pulse nightclub, co-founders Gabby Giffords (former Arizona Congresswoman) and Captain Mark Kelly issued a joint statement: “Our country is in the grips of a gun violence crisis. It claimed at least 50 lives early this morning. It claimed 33,000 lives last year. Some will say that our nation must accept this as the new normal. Some will say that there is nothing we can do to make our country safer from gun violence. It's not true.”
1983-2013, Screenshot of data compiled by Frederic Lemieux at The Conversation
The group is looking to partner with other veterans’ groups to close loops on background checks, strengthen gun control laws generally, and address the underlying mental health issues that lead to most mass shootings. The coalition makes clear they support Second Amendment rights (it would be tough for a veteran’s group not to take that stand), but by and large their message is that our system is very broken.
Between 1983 and 2011, the average time between a mass shooting was 200 days, according to a recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health. Between 2011 and now, that average has spiked to once every 64 days. America has an insanely high proportion of these gun deaths compared to other wealthy, developed nations (see chart). Something clearly needs to change, and fast.
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