Feed the phrase “toddler shot” into a Google search, and you’ll get more than 80 million results. The links on the first page of that search read like a bell tolling at the end of the world:
“Aunt of toddler who shot himself: ‘He probably thought (the gun) was a toy.'” The gun was in the glove compartment of the car, loaded. This happened four days ago.
“Wichita toddler accidentally shot, killed by brother identified.” The toddler was shot by his four-year-old brother, who found the gun in the bedroom nightstand, loaded. This happened eight days ago.
“Toddler shot by sister dies at hospital.” The toddler was shot by his three-year-old sister with a rifle their father had left in the living room, loaded. This happened twenty days ago
To be fair, millions of the pages that come up in that particular Google search pertain to child vaccinations. Feed “toddler shoots toddler” into the search, and the number of results is winnowed down to only two and a half million.
Only two and a half million of these:
“Toddler accidentally shoots, kills 11-year-old sister.”
“Toddler shoots fellow three-year-old with rifle in North Carolina.”
“Father charged after two-year-old fatally shoots herself.”
“Monroe toddler dies from shooting injuries.”
Like a bell tolling at the end of the world…which, to no small degree, for the mothers of these dead children, it is.
Everyone has a mother. In the 48 hours between Monday and Tuesday of this week:
A 14-year-old boy was shot and killed in New Orleans on Monday night;
A 24-year-old man was shot and killed in Queens on Monday night over a parking dispute;
A 22-year-old woman was shot and killed in Pennsylvania on Monday afternoon after being “mistaken for a groundhog” by her shooter;
A 48-year-old man was shot and killed by his neighbor in Minnesota on Monday night after a dispute over feeding the neighborhood deer;
Two men were shot and killed in Chicago on Monday night and Tuesday afternoon, ages 20 and 34;
A 25-year-old man was shot and killed in his car in Ohio on Monday night;
A man in his 40’s was shot to death in San Jose on Tuesday morning, the result of a road-rage incident;
A 27-year-old man was shot while having a smoke in a Santa Ana parking lot on Tuesday morning;
A 39-year-old man was shot and killed on the sidewalk in Hartford on Monday night;
An 18-year-old man was shot and killed near a scrap yard in Pueblo on Tuesday;
A 30-year-old man was shot and killed in Dothan on Tuesday night.
Eleven dead in 48 hours.
In that same 48-hour period, thirty-eight other people were shot and wounded in gun incidents all over the country, including a New Jersey police chief who shot himself in the leg on Tuesday, and an Indiana police officer who shot himself in the leg on Monday. As of this accounting, 6,212 people have been shot and wounded in America, and 3,665 people have been shot and killed, since the first of January, 2014. Almost ten thousand people shot in 131 days.
Those numbers will rise, sure as eggs is eggs, by the time the sun sets this Sunday. Eleven mothers making funeral plans for their dead child on the eve of Mother’s Day, thirty-eight mothers in fear for their injured child, because we are always children to our mothers, no matter how old we grow. The sorrow in this is absolute; it is that bell tolling at the end of the world.
On the eve of this Mother’s Day, some mothers are seeking, however best they can, to un-ring that terrible bell:
Sonja Woods says she came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday because her daughter was fatally shot by a man who flunked multiple background checks to buy a gun due to mental problems. So he bought the weapon at a hardware store that did not require a background check. Woods joined scores of gun violence survivors and family members of victims who gathered in a crowded congressional conference room to kick off the second annual “Moms Take the Hill” event and Mother’s Day “Week of Action.”
“I am speaking out to honor the life of my daughter who was murdered by a man who should not have been eligible to purchase a gun,” Woods said, choking back tears.
Mothers and activists are spending the week meeting with their representatives and making their case for universal background checks on gun buyers. In an effort to rally more support, members of the group have been hosting house parties in their home states, trying to get their neighbors to join in. Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns recently came together to form a new group named Everytown for Gun Safety. Last month, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged to spend $50 million this year to support the organization.
2,500,000 Google hits for “toddler shoots toddler.”
11 dead between Monday and Tuesday.
38 shot and wounded over that same time.
Nearly 10,000 shot in the 131 days since the ball dropped in New York City on January 1st.
I stand with Sonja Woods, and with every mother who has heard that bell toll as their child is lowered into the ground because of a gun, who has felt the suffering of a child who has been shot. There are almost ten thousand such mothers so far this year, with many more to come, because the year is still young, and we still love our guns more than we love our children.
I stand with the mothers of the slain and the maimed. On this Mother’s Day, a day of sorrow and not celebration for so very many, so should you.
It is, at long last, enough.