It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.
– Harper Lee, “To Kill a Mockingbird”
The year of the gun began in Tulsa, where four women were found bound and shot to death in their apartment. Twelve days later, a fifteen-year-old boy in New Mexico used an AR-15 to slaughter his father, mother, brother and two sisters; his brother was nine years old, and his sisters were five years old and two years old respectively. Less than a month later, a man shot and killed four people in a rural New York barber shop.
A little over a month later, two men and two women were lined up and shot in a basement in Akron. Four days later, a man in Washington State shot and killed his girlfriend and three neighbors before the police shot him down. Two days later, a man shot and killed five members of the mother of his daughter’s family before also being killed by police. Four days later, a Kansas man shot his roommate to death, shot his best friend to death, and then shot his best friend’s girlfriend and her 18-month-old daughter to death.
On the weekend of Mother’s day, a man shot and killed two couples before burning their homes, and then shot and killed a newspaper deliveryman. A little more than a month later, a man in Hawaii shot and killed the couple that managed his apartment building, shot and killed four neighbors, took hostages, and was eventually himself gunned down by police. Two weeks later, a Dallas man shot dead his wife, his girlfriend and two of his children. A week after that, a man in Oklahoma City shot his mother, sister, niece and baby nephew to death. A month later, a man walked onto the Navy Yard in Washington DC with a sawed-off shotgun and killed twelve people. Four days later, a woman in Texas shot and killed her husband, her three sons, and then herself.
A month later, a man in Phoenix shot and killed four people and then himself with a shotgun. Two days later, a Texas man shot and killed five people. The next day, a South Carolina man shot and killed his ex-girlfriend, two of her children, her parents, and then himself. A month later, four people were shot and killed in Topeka. Two days after that, an Arkansas man shot and killed his daughter’s boyfriend, his four-month-old grandson, his granddaughter, and then himself. On the same day, a Tennessee man shot and killed his wife, his son, his daughter, and then himself. Five days later, a Connecticut man shot and killed his ex-girlfriend, two other people, and then himself.
This is, bear in mind, an incomplete accounting.
Then there were the school shootings. In 2010, by comparison, there were nine school shootings in America that killed seven people. In 2011, there were eleven school shootings that killed nine people. In 2012, there were fourteen school shootings – including the massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary and Oikos University – that killed 43 people. In 2013, there were twenty-three school shootings that killed nineteen people.
Nine, then eleven, then fourteen, then twenty-three. If the trend holds, we can look forward to maybe thirty or forty school shootings in 2014.
Then there was the two-year-old North Carolina girl who shot herself to death with a gun someone left lying around, the three-year-old Arizona boy who shot himself to death with a gun someone left lying around, the five-year-old Texas boy who was shot in the head by an eight-year-old boy with a gun someone left lying around, the two-year-old Texas boy who shot himself in the head with a gun someone left lying around, the South Dakota woman who was shot while trying to take a gun away from her two-year-old son, the four-year-old Michigan boy who shot himself to death with a gun someone left lying around, the 11-year-old Virginia boy who shot himself in the mouth with a gun someone left lying around, and all the other 7,500 children who were admitted to hospitals with gunshot wounds this year, 500 of whom died.
But there’s nothing we can do about it, because there’s nothing we can do about it, because there’s nothing we can do about it, because there’s nothing we can do about it, because there’s nothing we can do about it, because freedom, or something.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
If nothing else of any value happens in 2014, if the Affordable Care Act crashes and burns, if Ted Cruz is appointed Emperor Of All The Things, if the Trans Pacific Partnership becomes the law of the land, if that land becomes traversed and poisoned by the Keystone XL pipeline, if the government shuts down again, if the nation defaults, and if the press keeps taking people like Sarah Palin seriously, at least, for the love of all that is good and decent and sane, let us resolve individually and as a nation to try as best we can to get some semblance of a grip on the deranged slaughter caused by guns.
You may love guns, and hate the president. But working to keep living children from becoming dead children is something every American should be able to get behind. Let’s give it a try, and see what happens. The baby you save may be your own.
Happy New Year. Please, oh please, let that be the case.