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Another Voice: A look at casualties in mass shootings

By Peter Leyonmark

Mother Jones researched and wrote “A Guide to Mass Shootings in America; Indiscriminate Rampages in Public Places.”

The article chronicles 96 shootings from 1982 to 2017, involving three or more victims. There were 790 fatalities, 1,258 injured for a total of 2,048 casualties.

High-capacity pistols, those that were originally marketed to the military, later sold openly to the public, represented 64 percent of the shootings.

Assault-type rifles, with the same provenance as the pistols, accounted for 23 percent.

Looking at the most heinous, there were 15 incidents with 25 or more casualties.

From 1982 to 2009, eight out of nine were with high-capacity pistols for a total of 298 casualties. After 2009 the remaining six shootings involved assault-type rifles with a total of 898 casualties.

84 percent of the guns in 96 mass shootings were purchased legally. The remainder were stolen, or purchased in violation of gun laws.

Of course, 790 fatalities over 35 years pale in comparison to the 13,000 annual non-suicide deaths by firearms in the United States.
Let’s stop the sophistry that we don’t have a gun problem. At 10.2 gun deaths per 100,000 citizens, we are eight times the rate of other comparable First World countries.

This situation is unacceptable, as well as disgraceful.

Our society has to address these issues:
How long are we willing to tolerate this level of carnage? For now? Forever?

What are the ramifications of the Second Amendment?

We no longer fear a slave rebellion, and with large standing armies at the federal and state level, do we need to amend the amendment? What is its current relevance?

Based on the Federal Firearms Act of 1934, and the Assault Rifle Ban of 1994, wouldn’t federal legislation benefit the safety of our citizens over the current hodgepodge of state laws?

Transporting guns from lax gun law states to New York makes our regulation virtually meaningless.

To what extent does the militarization of our civilian firearms contribute to the death toll? Do civilians need to possess virtually the same small arms as our military, designed to be carried to war?

This is not a zero sum game, with unfettered access on one hand and on the other, a total ban on guns.

The challenge is to create a uniform system that thoroughly and carefully qualifies those to whom firearms are entrusted.
Also, we need a realistic appraisal of those guns that are built for traditional civilian pursuits. It is no coincidence that mass killers use military-style high-capacity guns.

This will be a long process, and will require a sea change in our gun culture.

Now is the time to begin a meaningful dialogue, to take action or we will face an indefinite future of relentless gun tragedy.

Peter Leyonmark, of Hamburg, is a member of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

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