- “SHOT IN THE USA: GUN VIOLENCE IN 2013” launched in January
- The project has now published over 2,500 posts
- Victims from January and February 2013 have been recorded so far
- Site has received 34,500+ page views and 18,000+ visitors this year
“SHOT IN THE USA: GUN VIOLENCE IN 2013” aims to log every victim of gun violence in the US in 2013, simply listing who they were (ideally with a photo), what happened and where. The project was launched in January 2013.
There are two reasons it was started. First, the sheer volume of violence combined with the local nature of our news coverage means it is too easy to simply ignore all the mayhem that goes on every day. People genuinely don’t know or, when they do partly know, have learned to tune it out and accept it as “normal” or the “cost of freedom”. Until we all understand the scale of the problem, it is hard to talk about solutions.
Second, the aim is to make sure the victims are front and center and we see that these are real things happening to real people. When faced with some of the actual events that are documented in this project, particularly the many that involve children and domestic violence, the hope is that everyone will start to question whether we really can just dismiss all those faces as “collateral damage”, as a price they have to pay so we can have easy access to guns.
At the start the plan foolishly was to log every time someone was shot. It quickly became apparent that there was barely time to keep up with all the people KILLED, let alone wounded. That is crazy in itself.
The sheer number of guns means that every day low-level disputes escalate into deadly confrontations. People shoot first and ask questions later. Fathers turn their guns on their families before killing themselves. Teenagers lash out at the world and shoot family members and classmates. Children find loaded guns in their own homes leading to deadly accidents. People get caught in the crossfire just because they live in the wrong neighborhood. These are not isolated incidents, they are not “random” – they happen again and again and again, like clockwork.
Of course undoubtedly many of the people shot are no angels – they may be involved in drug-dealing and have previous convictions. Often the police will corner a suspect and just shoot them then and there if they feel in any danger, or sometimes not. The investigation afterwards nearly always finds in favor of the police. And the attitude of some people (as has been seen on Twitter unfortunately) is “So what? Just another dead N…”
The reality is guns are so easy to get legally (and therefore for illegal purposes) that everyone involved is being brutalized. For criminals, guns are carried as protection against other criminals, they’re a quick and easy way to resolve (or rather escalate) criminal disputes. For police, they never know what they’re going to be faced with on a call and so have a siege mentality – wouldn’t you have if this is the kind of thing you could face when you go to work each day? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7gQ2kDPTBY. They are a police force, not a police service, and shoot if there is any perceived danger.
This brutalizing of how the police view citizens (as people they are potentially at war with at any given second) also has a very sad secondary consequence. There are many cases where police are called to deal with a person who is mentally ill, on drugs or in some way unbalanced, sometimes wielding a knife, but not always waving a gun. Instead of subduing them alive, far too often the police shoot them. Deadly force is used too quickly, and part of the reason is that approach of “When in Doubt, Shoot”. Pathetically easy access to guns means police officers are faced daily with armed citizens who can regularly outgun them. Is that a reasonable situation to ask a police officer, or anyone, to go into every day?
The vicious circle spins faster and faster with more and more people carrying and using guns because… more and more people are carrying and using guns. But you’re not stuck in traffic, you ARE traffic. The negligent ease with which legal guns can be bought directly increases the number of illegal guns in circulation.
“Shot in the USA: Gun Violence in 2013” aims to show the human impact of that vicious circle and ask ‘Do these men, women and children matter?’ Hopefully the answer will eventually, finally, be a resounding “Yes”.
All posts from the project are publicized via Twitter (http://twitter.com/usgunviolence6) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/US-GUN-VIOLENCE/455438734575556).
The project has been retweeted by John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang), Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts, Founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, @momsdemand) has been followed by former George W. Bush speechwriter, David Frum (@davidfrum) and has been described as “vital work” by Maria Roach (@riaro), host of “State of Play”.
But main thanks of course goes out to the many people who continue to retweet and share the project to spread the message that “Strong Gun Laws Save Lives”. Every post will hopefully mean something to the people who knew the victim – i.e. someone somewhere thinks their death matters, regardless of who they were.
The only way our laws will change is if the People put pressure on the politicians in the U.S. Congress and State Senates. Follow these simple steps:
Step 1) Find out who your US Senators and Representative are at http://www.opencongress.org/people/zipcodelookup
Step 2) Find out who your State Senator is from the State Senate website in your state.
Step 3) If possible, coordinate with your neighbors and friends in the area and all make contact on the same day or in the same week.
Step 4) Call, email and/or write to each of your representatives and ask which of the “Big Ten” gun safety measures they support:
- Do you support universal background checks, including in private sales? If not, why not?
- Do you support an assault weapons ban? If not, why not?
- Do you support mandatory child safety locks on all guns? If not, why not?
- Do you support mandatory safe gun storage laws, particularly if a household contains a minor or person adjudicated mentally ill? If not, why not?
- Do you support repealing the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which prevents victims from holding the gun industry to account? If not, why not?
- Do you support limiting magazine sizes to ensure law enforcement are not outgunned? If not, why not?
- Do you support mandatory duty of states to report persons with mental health issues to the Federal background check system? If not, why not?
- Do you support mandatory liability insurance for all gun owners? If not, why not?
- Do you support mandatory reporting by gun owners of lost or stolen guns? If not, why not?
- Do you support Smart Gun technology to ensure only approved adults can fire a weapon? If not, why not?
Step 5) Note down the answers you receive, share them with people in your area and, if possible, publish them to the web. Use #gunsense if posting to Twitter.
Step 6) Attend in-person meetings with your representatives and demand that they support these common sense gun safety measures.
Thanks for reading and keep working for common sense gun laws in America.
Follow US Gun Violence (https://twitter.com/usgunviolence6) and spread the message that “Strong Gun Laws Save Lives”.