“The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure.”
– Maine Representative Jared Golden
At a news conference on Oct. 25, 2023 Democratic Congressman Golden apologized to his constituents for his past opposition to the banning of assault weapons, and appealed to Congress to take action (mainepublic.org/politics). He added a statement we’ve all heard following a mass shooting—this one in Lewiston, Maine that took 18 lives and injured 13 more—that he had a “false confidence” that his community was above deadly shootings.
“It just couldn’t happen here.”
Well “here” seems to be the name of towns and cities all across America. No one is safe from becoming a victim, no matter who you are, where you live, how old or young you are, or what you are doing. “Here” is the name of communities large and small, of grocery stores, streets, elementary schools and universities, bowling alleys, shopping centers, synagogues, mosques, playgrounds, churches, clubs, homes, parades, restaurants, and places of work.
There have been 597 mass shootings in 311 days in 2023, according to the National Gun Archive. The Giffords Law Center reports that “assault weapons, especially with large-capacity magazines, have become the weapon of choice for assailants seeking to perpetuate mass casualty attacks…”
Everytown.org has compiled some stunning statistics:
• If the federal law prohibiting assault weapons had been in effect from 2005 through 2019, it would have prevented 30 mass shootings that killed or wounded 1,478 people. Now, think how many have been killed in mass shootings since 2019.
• Between 2015 and 2022, mass shootings where assault weapons were used, killed more than twice as many people per incident on average, with more than 6 times as many people shot, and 23 times as many people wounded.
An AR-15 is a killing machine. It can’t be used for hunting if you want anything left that resembles food or a trophy. It shreds organs and destroys bodies. It was designed not to be survivable. But lest you think that only deranged killers have these weapons, consider this: last year, TIME reported that recent estimates show there are some 20 million of these rifles in the US.
For years, there have been attempts to reinstitute the 1994 ban on assault weapons, to no avail. There are bills in Congress now and they languish with little action. Individual states have banned the gun, but as long as travel, and lax or no gun licensing requirements exist, even those states are vulnerable.
So what will it take? Does it have to happen here—again—in Florida? Tell us, Senators Rubio and Scott, and Congressman Webster, what will it take for you to care more about the lives of your constituents than the NRA? Really, what will it take before you realize that “here” is everywhere?
Marsha Shearer is a resident of The Villages and a frequent contributor to Villages-News.com