How Many More Must Die Before Something Is Done?
There has been another mass shooting in the United States recently. This time an 18 year old man methodically shot and killed ten people at a supermarket in Buffalo New York. The shooter used an AR-15 semi automatic assault weapon that was legally purchased and had body armor on himself consisting of a bulletproof vest. He planned out the attack and even “cased” out the place before his shooting rampage. On the day of the shooting, he drove more than 200 miles from his home to Buffalo where his intention was to shoot and kill as many Black people as possible.
On August 3 2019, another gunman used a civilian version of the AK-47 assault weapon to shoot and kill 23 people at a Wal Mart in El Paso Texas, specifically targeting Hispanic people. Like the Buffalo shooter, he traveled over 650 miles from his home in the Dallas area to El Paso on the Mexican border where he carried out the shooting.
The same night another mass shooting occurred in a neighborhood in Dayton Ohio when another young man, like the other mass shooters, he used a weapon similar to the AR-15 semi automatic assault weapon to kill nine people, including his brother, and wound another 17 people. The gunman was shot and killed on the scene by police officers.
On April 28 1996, a gunman went on a shooting rampage at a former colonial prison and tourist attraction in Tasmania, a part of Australia, killing 35 people before he was caught by police. Again the weapon that the shooter used was a military style semi automatic assault weapon similar to the weapons used in most mass shootings.
What set this mass shooting in Australia apart from the mass shootings in the United States is the action taken by the Australian government. Within two weeks of the shooting the Australian Prime Minister had brokered a National Firearms Agreement Law limiting the licensing and ownership controls on guns. As part of that agreement, all semi automatic rifles as well as semi automatic and pump action shotguns were banned and all unlicensed firearms were surrendered during a gun amnesty. In Australia all guns and firearms must be licensed and all gun purchasers are subject to mandatory background checks before purchasing any firearm. This also includes all private sales of guns.
Since 1996, Australia has had no mass shootings
Contrast that where mass shootings in the United States are a plague on the nation with many occurring each year. Usually there is a pattern to a mass shooting. Often it is a man (few mass shootings are committed by women) with a grudge or just a desire for notoriety. Very few mass shooters have any criminal record prior to the shooting. In most cases like the Buffalo shooting, the shooter legally obtained the firearm used in the shooting and most often it was a semi automatic military style assault weapon such as the AR-15 which seems to be the most “popular” weapon of mass shooters.
Whenever there is a mass shooting in the United States, there is a similar pattern of reaction. There are “thoughts and prayers” offered to the victims of the shooting. Then people psychoanalyze the motivation of the shooter. In many mass shootings the shooter either kills themselves or is killed by police responding to the shooting. Then we move on until there is another mass shooting somewhere and the same actions are repeated.
While mass shootings where more than four individuals are shot by one person make headlines across the country; far more Americans are victims of individual gun violence. Whether it is an irate spouse or a young man in a gang, individual gun violence plagues most of the cities in the United States. By law, people with felony records are not allowed to own or purchase a firearm. But somehow they manage to get a gun.
We talk about “doing something” and wander all over what to do to stop the tide of gun violence. But one thing that is seldom mentioned as a remedy to mass shootings and gun violence is what was done and has worked in Australia following the mass shooting in 1996. In the United States we never talk about actually eliminating the cause of gun violence in the United States; too many guns and the ease at which guns end up in the wrong hands.
I find it highly hypocritical when elected officials and politicians rail against abortion, calling it murder; yet at the same time do absolutely nothing about the proliferation of guns in our country while opposing any measure that might limit or reduce the types and amount of guns. One quality sorely lacking in the United States is courage, especially among our elected officials. It is time to actually do something other than offer “thoughts and prayers”.
Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.