Parkland

Posted by:

G Sakamoto

The deaths by gun violence of seventeen people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has once again brought outrage and grief at the senseless loss of life. I hope this time we will be able to change the way we understand gun violence in America. We have been here before. Each time we have demanded that something be done. The anger over the Parkland killings has brought thousands into the streets. They raise their voices so change will happen.

Buddhism reminds us that we must look carefully at what we see. We are reminded that what we see may be a distortion of what is. We are looking at the world through our prejudices often unable to see things as they are. Unable to see things as they are results in difficulties for ourselves and others.

As thousands of students across the country walked out of classes there were students who chose not to protest. Their experience of gun violence is not like the mass killing in Parkland but rather their awareness is everyday in their neighborhoods. They have protested in the past and hope that this time things will change.

When mass shootings occur the focus is often on semiautomatic long guns like the AR-15 and its variants. Of the seven mass shootings with the greatest number of deaths two were committed with the use of handguns. In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho, killed 32 people at Virginia Tech with a semiautomatic Glock and a .22 caliber pistol both handguns. In 1991, George Hennard killed 23 people with a single Glock semiautomatic handgun.

There were 11,008 homicides committed with guns in 2014. These 11,008 deaths are within the greater number 33,594 death by guns that occurred in that same year. Two thirds of the total number of the deaths were suicide.

In 1996 the opportunity for better understanding was subverted by the Dickey Amendment. Since then the CDC has not actively pursued research that might result in gun control recommendations. The 1993 report that triggered the amendment was funded by the CDC and published in the New England Journal of Medicine ( https://goo.gl/vczSBJ ) The last three paragraphs describe, in part, the observations of the study.

What the report found was the presence of guns in the home, even when purchased for protection, resulted in higher incident of homicide and suicide and that drugs and domestic violence also played an important role. This was the last comprehensive study by the CDC regarding gun ownership and gun violence.

Without research on gun violence we are making decisions based on a limited view of the problem. Responding to the problem of gun violence with limited information will not resolve the problem.