Guns & COVID Illustrate How Badly the U.S. is Broken

We discuss a NYTimes’ annotated partial list of 2022 mass shootings in the U.S. The list is knee buckling, but the accompanying analysis and research makes clear the root cause of the problem. What is far harder to explain is our nation’s inaction when confronted with the list of mass murders we’ve endured just this year, the children slaughtered in their classrooms, the co-workers murdered . in their breakroom, the parishioners cut down in their place of worship, the families shredded by bullets in their home. Is there nowhere safe in America? What enables this madness to continue? Is it a nationwide moral cowardice? Or, as a nation have we lost any sense of community, a lack of a moral center and commitment to the common good? An unwillingness to sacrifice for others? How many scenes, like the one below, must we view on the evening news, along with politicians offering their prayers, before we actually do something?.

In the NY Times’ piece, “Why Does the U.S. Have So Many Mass Shootings? Research Is Clear: Guns,” Max Fisher and Josh Keller debunk one mythical explanation after another for our exponential rate of gun violence in America.They then zero in on the obvious root cause: Guns. Let’s explore their thinking about the U.S.’s unique problem with gun violence.

Perhaps, some speculate, it is because American society is unusually violent. Or its racial divisions have frayed the bonds of society. Or its citizens lack proper mental care under a health care system that draws frequent derision abroad.

These explanations share one thing in common: Though seemingly sensible, all have been debunked by research on shootings elsewhere in the world. Instead, an ever-growing body of research consistently reaches the same conclusion.

The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.

NY Times, “Why Does the U.S. Have So Many Mass Shootings? Research Is Clear: Guns,”

And the NY Times offers compelling evidence of the direct correlation between gun availability and mass shooters. No other country on earth has even 1/4th as many guns as we do and no nation on earth has even 1/5th as many mass shootings. What’s more, as the chart below reveals, there is a direct and strong correlation between gun availability and gun deaths. And here we are discussing mass shootings, not the tens of thousands of women who die from gunshots from husbands, boyfriends, or ex’s, such as what occurred in Rio Rancho on Friday when Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque Municipal Judge Diane Albert, 65, was shot in her home in an apparent murder-suicide committed by her husband Eric Pinkerton, 63. Or the thousands of depressed individuals who end their lives via self-inflicted gunshots.

The chart below is irrefutable. More guns = more mass shooters.

The NRA and 2nd Amendment defenders will attempt to distract from the simple truth that more guns means more death and that having a gun makes you less sae, not more. Despite the research to the contrary, we have all heard these false claims as important contributors to skyrocketing levels of gun violence:

  • Untreated Mental health conditions. While a serious problem, a 2015 study found that less than 4 % of U.S. gun deaths involved mental health issues;
  • Excessive playing of violent video games shows no correlation to gun violence. Game playing simply has no impact.
  • Some have attributed our extraordinary levels of gun violence to gang and criminal activity. But the United States is not actually more prone to crime than other developed countries, according to a landmark 1999 study by Franklin E. Zimring and Gordon Hawkins of the University of California, Berkeley.

I’ve long since turned in my research hat, but without doing any research, from the chart above, the list of 2022 gun violence incidents below and just a daily habit of watching the news, I can pinpoint the problem: The intersection of gun availability and insecure, threatened men. When was the last time you heard a report of a woman committing a mass shooting? Ever? Roxanne and I are often struck by the predominance of young white males among the shooters, often characterized as “misfits,” “loners,” or disgruntled co-worker, husband/boyfriend, or family member.

I’m gonna go out on an unsupported limb here and say that perhaps a majority of men are not very good at facing or addressing emotional problems or conflict, especially American men who are not taught problem solving skills in school, but are taught how Americans historically, resolve conflict… violently. So when men are unable to solve a sudden or a longstanding problem, frustration sets in and if a gun is at hand, too often gun violence occurs. And people die.

The problem is so obvious and the solution so clear, that it is hard to understand our national inability to take the kind of action needed.

Biden reacts to the latest slaughter with a promise to ban assault weapons, a position admittedly without a plan, and the media is quick to point out that with a GOP-controlled Congress, there is no hope of passage. And so a bunch of old mostly white, and mostly men again decide that the gun lobby is more important than the lives and opinions of their constituents, as evienced by soaring support for aggressive gun violence prevention legislation. From Quinnipiac Poll:

There is near unanimous support (92 percent) for requiring background checks for all gun buyers, while 7 percent oppose requiring background checks for all gun buyers.

Americans support 83 – 12 percent a so called “red flag” law allowing police or family members to petition a judge to remove guns from a person that may be at risk for violent behavior.

Half of Americans (50 percent) support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons, while 45 percent oppose it…. The highest level of support among registered voters for a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons was in a Quinnipiac poll on February 20, 2018 when 67 percent supported a ban and 29 percent opposed.

Quinnipiac Poll: “Nearly 3 Out Of 4 Support Raising Legal Age To Buy Any Gun, Quinnipiac University National Poll

2022 in America: A hail of bullets; a trail of blood

The deadliest mass shooting in the country so far this year was the massacre in which 19 children and two teachers were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24. It happened 10 days after 10 people were shot and killed in a supermarket in Buffalo.

The Gun Violence Archive has counted at least 609 mass shootings so far this year, through mid-November. Of those shootings, 21 involved five or more fatalities, including the attack at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Va., on Nov. 22 and the shooting at an L.G.B.T.Q. nightclub in Colorado Springs on Nov. 19 that left five people dead.

The group recorded 692 mass shootings last year, with 28 involving four or more fatalities.

Here is a partial list of mass shootings so far this year. I’d ask that you not quickly scroll past the summaries, but rather take a moment to absorb the magnitude of each event, and then the cumulative impact of a year of slaughter. Each shooting listed below left victims dead, families destroyed, communities in shock and politicians inert, but offering thoughts and prayers.

A Walmart employee opened fire in a break room as the store was preparing to close for the night, killing six people, the authorities said. The gunman was found dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the police.

At least five people were killed and 18 injured in a shooting at an L.G.B.T.Q. nightclub. The gunman was injured and taken to a hospital.

Three University of Virginia students, all of whom were players on the football team, were killed and two were wounded when a gunman, a former football player, opened fire in a garage after a field trip to see a play in Washington.

A gunman, described by the authorities only as a “white male juvenile,” killed at least five people, including an off-duty police officer. The attacks drew a large response from law enforcement agencies to the residential area near the Neuse River Greenway, a popular bike trail for Raleigh residents.

Memphis was effectively closed down during an hourslong manhunt for a 19-year-old gunman who killed four people while streaming some of the violence on Facebook Live. Streaming as you kill, as if it were sport. There were several shootings and carjackings over the course of the day.

A 20-year-old gunman opened fire in the food court of a mall, killing three people and wounding two others. Minutes into the attack, the gunman, identified as Jonathan Douglas Sapirman, was fatally shot by a bystander.

Robert E. Crimo III, 21, was taken into custody several hours after the shooting in Highland Park, a suburb north of Chicago, and charged with seven counts of first-degree murder. Seven people were killed and dozens more, ranging in age between 8 and 85, were wounded.

The police said the gunman had climbed onto a rooftop with a rifle and begun firing into a crowd gathered for a Fourth of July parade.

Nine people were shot and wounded in what the police said appeared to be an incident related to a stolen car. The youngest victim was 17 and the oldest was 68. All were treated at local hospitals.

A 21-year-old college basketball player was killed and eight people were wounded in an early-morning shooting at a popular picnicking area.

After surging during the pandemic, the rate of shootings in New York has begun to fall, although it is still above prepandemic levels.

Three people were killed and 12 injured in a shooting in downtown Philadelphia, the police said. An officer fired at one of the gunmen, the police said, but it was unclear whether the gunman had been hit.

Another six people were killed and dozens were injured in several other shootings over the same weekend, including in Arizona, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Several people were shot and five were killed at a medical building next to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Okla., the Tulsa police said. The police said the gunman was believed to have killed himself.

A gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, about 80 miles west of San Antonio.

Law enforcement officers fatally shot the gunman, identified as Salvador Ramos, 18, but not until well over an hour after he walked into the school, raising questions about whether lives could have been saved if they had acted sooner.

A gunman killed one person and critically wounded four other members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif. The congregation, which holds services at the Geneva Presbyterian Church, overpowered the gunman and hogtied him, preventing further bloodshed, the authorities said.

The suspect, David Chou, 68, is a Las Vegas man with a wife and child in Taiwan who had traveled to Orange County with a grievance against Taiwanese people, the authorities said. He was charged with murder and five counts of attempted murder in what the Orange County sheriff, Don Barnes, called a “politically motivated hate incident.”

A gunman armed with an assault-style weapon killed 10 people and wounded three others at a Tops supermarket in a predominantly Black section of Buffalo, the authorities said.

The suspect, Payton S. Gendron, 18, is white, and the 10 people who died were all Black. Before the attack, Mr. Gendron had posted a nearly 200-page racist screed online. He was indicted on 25 counts, including 10 counts of first-degree murder and 10 counts of second-degree murder charges as hate crimes, as well as a single count of domestic terrorism motivated by hate.

At least 16 people were wounded by gunfire in a shooting in downtown Milwaukee, in a popular nightlife area blocks from the arena where an N.B.A. playoff game ended hours earlier, the authorities said.

A gunman opened fire inside a crowded subway car during the morning rush, wounding 10 people, the worst attack on New York City’s subway system in decades. More than a dozen other people were also injured, with some choking on smoke from the two devices the police said the gunman detonated before he started shooting. No one was killed.

A suspect, Frank R. James, was arrested the next day and charged with carrying out a terrorist attack on a mass transit system. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

As revelers spilled out of nightclubs in a two-square-block area of downtown Sacramento, a barrage of gunfire killed six people and wounded 12, the authorities said. Days later, the Sacramento Police Department said “gang violence” was at the center of the shooting, which involved at least five gunmen.

Two people engaged in a gunfight and sprayed a crowd with gunfire, killing one bystander and injuring 27 other people, including six children, at a community event and car show in the small Arkansas farming community.

Law enforcement officers were called to a Milwaukee home for a welfare check, and found six people who had been fatally shot. The victims — five men and one woman — had been shot, the police said, and evidence early in the investigation suggested that the killings had been targeted.

So, there you have it, hundreds killed in just this partial list, but here are the U.S. totals for 2022, to date, from Gun Violence Archive.

I am hoping that at least in true blue NM, with our freshly accomplished blue tsunami, just maybe we can get something meaningful done in 2023. Stay tuned for more this week. We will also discuss this in our Huddle Thursday evening. Go to Actions & Events for more on that.

The headline to today’s post described U.S. action or inaction on gun violence and COVID as being indicative of a broken society. If you measure the moral and ethical strength of a nation on how well it meets its challenges and works together to solve problems, then our collective response to gun violence and to COVID is nothing less than abysmal. The analysis above addresses guns in depth, so I will be brief as relates to COVID.

Throughout the early months of COVID when hospitals were overwhelmed, when most of what was asked of us as a people, was to wear a mask and maintain a safe distance when inside with others, we found countless fights on planes or retail outlets with attendants and workers assaulted for insisting on masks. Masks became a symbol of government infringement on personal freedom. So personal freedom trumps collective public health. My rights to remain mask-free, trumps your desire to survive COVID. Talk about a misplaced understanding of freedom. What is next? The oppression of being required to stop at red lights. That may sound silly, but in the midst of a horrible pandemic, is it any more sensible to insist on being mask-free? Is refusing to wear a mask really any dumber and selfish, than refusing to stop at red lights.

Our society can’t survive if we can’t find ways to solve problems collectively and respectfully. And it is hard to be optimistic with rumblings of how, now that the GOP has taken control of the House, their priorities are to impeach Biden; investigate Hunter Biden; and dismantle the FBI. Priority setting and problem solving at their finest.

With such a deep level of mistrust of government, of law and of each other, how do we even begin to fix this mess? Responses and suggestions welcome.

Ethics at the Roundhouse, a Reminder

Scandal has plagued New Mexico’s Legislature for decades. In recent years, a state senator has gone to prison and a state representative is under indictment on corruption charges. A sitting state senator is charged with sexual harassment while an internal legislative ethics committee is described by the Senate President Pro Tem as “broken”.

Meanwhile, proposals for reform that would bring greater accountability move at a snail’s pace.

Some say the Legislature is in desperate need of professionalization – paid lawmakers and staff who can reduce their reliance on lobbyists for information.

Others have high hopes the state’s new independent Ethics Commission will make a difference.

New Mexico In Depth invites you to join us for an afternoon conversation in Santa Fe with leaders in the effort to make state government more ethical and accountable to New Mexicans.

When: Thursday, December 1, 1:00 – 4:00 PM

Where: Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute, 1607 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Don’t miss: 

A one-on-one conversation with Jeremy Farris, executive director of the New Mexico State Ethics Commission.

Also joining us: ~ State Rep. Joy Garratt
~ State Sen. Katy Duhigg
~ Mario Jimenez, Common Cause
~ Kathleen Sabo, New Mexico Ethics Watch
~ Judy Williams, League of Women Voters
~ Professor Timothy Krebs, UNM Political Science Department

More info?  See the agenda here

This is a Free Event. Please reserve your spot today to help us plan for attendance.

In solidarity & hope,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Gun Violence Prevention, Uncategorized

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5 replies

  1. Thanks as always for bringing a critical topic to our attention. The US is broken, but we can push back against those who are breaking it (like the NRA).

  2. Christian philosophy left us with the underlying idea that life is supposed to be – must be – harsh. That’s how you get tested and purified to ready yourself for the afterlife.

    So any politician who proposes measures to establish a more caring society is seen as going against the natural way (god).
    What a load of crap.

  3. You would leave guns in the hands of government, which is the deadliest and most dangerous killer of them all, with 200 million killed by governments in the previous century—the majority of those victims being killed by their own governments.

    Guns in the hands of citizens is the best way for us to protect against tyranny. It doesn’t guarantee against tyranny—the current government in New Mexico is proof enough of that—but it really is better than not having them.

    As you lay out your statistics above, you of course never mention that guns are often used to protect and save life.

    We have a right to protect ourselves, and that we have to protect that right from the likes of the authors here, only emphasizes the need of the right to keep and bear arms. Any efforts by your organization to deny that right by provoking an act of government, overlooks that the right is not sourced from government, but comes from our nature as human beings, of our self-ownership and the right of property under natural law.

    • Curious about the tyranny you find in NM. What is your evidence of it? How do you possibly need a gun to protect yourself from the authors? Your assertion that you have an inherent right to protect yourself can be turned around so that to protect my safety, I have the right to disarm you via legislation, legislation, I’d vigorously support. Research has repeatedly found that owning a gun does not make you less safe, not more safe.

  4. The NY Times piece, although generally correct in many of its conclusions, it plays some misleading statistical games as illustrated by the chart provided above. Any statistic comparing countries needs to be presented on a per capita basis rather than an absolute basis. There are also a number of other issues with exactly which statistic to use (what counts as a mass shooting, number of deaths in a mass shooting, number of people shot or injured in a mass shooting, average per year, median per year, etc., etc.).

    For example, one study ranked a number of developed countries (U.S., Canada, and Europe, 2009-2015) by Average (Mean) Annual Death Rate per Million People from Mass Public Shootings. There, the US came in 11th place behind such less than obvious candidates such as Norway, France, Switzerland, Belgium and Finland. See for this result as well as critiques of the study. (It should be noted that similar critiques could be applied to some of the methods used in the Times piece).

    Better information on the relationship between numbers of guns and gun violence can be found in a number of studies cited in a piece by the Harvard School of Public Health:

    Another misleading part of the analysis is the implied conclusion that only the number of guns available is responsible for gun violence/mass shootings and that assault weapons are the major problem. In fact, the majority of gun violence in the US occurs in disadvantaged communities in high crime areas of major cities and is done with handguns, not assault weapons (or any type of rifle for that matter). See data from the EveryCity group at For further data, consult the website of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence: As such there is a significant societal relationship between poverty and the risk of being exposed to gun violence.

    Although mass shooting incidents are the most spectacular cases of gun violence, they in some ways obscure the fact that in the United States, gun violence is a constant and ongoing fact of life and one of our worst public health problems. Based on statistics collected by the Brady Center, each year roughly 110,000 people are shot, of these more than 36,000 die with more than 12,000 due to homicide and 22,000 due to suicide. Although several hundred people die in the U.S. in mass shootings each year, they are only the most visible tip of the iceberg of gun violence.

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