The flags were once again at half mast as I drove to work, continuing a solemn and what has become an all-too-often acknowledgement of those whose lives have been taken during mass shootings in America.
In the previous nine days, 37 people had been killed and 79 wounded, ranging in age from 3 to 90 years old.
The attacks had occurred from Ohio to Texas, California to Mississippi and New York.
And they had taken place at shopping centers, during festivals and at community block parties.
At the time, we were 217 days into the year and the number of mass shootings has already outpaced that with 255 incidents since Jan. 1, averaging more than one mass shooting a day.
This is according to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that defines mass shootings as “an incident in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter.”
I realize there is some controversy over this number, which some gun proponents argue is inflated by including those wounded and not killed, as well as shootings that occur in relation to gang and domestic violence.
I would argue that anyone who has been a victim of gun violence — wounded or killed, gang member or family member — should count.
If you are a gun owner, you probably assume I say all of this as an argument against gun ownership.
However, that would be hypocritical since I, too, am a gun owner.
I’m also a motorcycle owner and realize that the days of riding helmetless without any formal training or certification are long gone. That’s because laws and rules were changed and adopted in order to decrease the number of senseless deaths that occurred each year as a result of not having any real oversight or personal accountability.
While I fully support the Second Amendment, I also support the First Amendment — but understand that free speech still doesn’t allow me to yell “Fire!” in the middle of a crowded theater.
There are common sense rules that come with all freedoms in order to assure that those freedoms are not misused or manipulated to the detriment of others.
The current number of mass shootings in America — and acts of gun violence in general — has us on a trajectory for the deadliest year since 2016, which was the first time the number of mass shootings in a single year (382) topped the number of days in that same year.
It’s time we stop focusing on the division between who does and doesn’t — or who should and shouldn’t — own guns, and instead recognize that the current laws and rules regarding our Second Amendment right are being misused and manipulated — to the detriment of us all.