Viewpoint

Want to make America safe again? Address gun violence

Between 2001 and 2013, 3,030 Americans were killed in terrorist attacks and 406,496 citizens were killed by guns.
Between 2001 and 2013, 3,030 Americans were killed in terrorist attacks and 406,496 citizens were killed by guns. AP

Make America safe again? Seriously?

A night of the Republican National Convention was dedicated to this idea, but the real threat – the slaughter that has taken 7,633 people’s lives this year – was not mentioned.

No, America was not safe for Charles Kinsey, the North Miami group home counselor shot by police while trying to calm an autistic patient playing with a toy truck in the street.

Both a caller and the police thought the little toy truck was a gun.

Why wouldn’t they? There are more guns than people in our country, so it made sense to assume a Glock rather than a Hotwheel, even when the counselor was laying on the ground with his hands in the air, yelling: “All he has is a toy truck in his hand. That’s all it is.”

How much you want to bet this conversation will be about unlicensed toy trucks before it comes close to calling out our country’s love affair with guns.

When police shoot someone under questionable circumstances, we talk about police training and racial tensions.

When police are shot to death in ambushes, we talk about fallen heroes and the job’s dangers.

When an immigrant shoots someone, we talk about securing our borders.

When a mentally ill person shoots someone, we lament access to mental health treatment.

But when it comes to addressing America’s gun culture, too many of us are silent. We’ve given up, accepting a slow-motion massacre just as deadly as terrorist attacks in other parts of the world.

Between 2001 and 2013, 3,030 people were killed in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, including those lost on Sept. 11, 2001, according to the University of Maryland data. During that same time, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention records show 406,496 people were killed by gunfire.

Yet at Making America Safe Again night in Cleveland, no one talked about our nation’s stunning gun death toll. In an open carry state, the Secret Service banned weapons from Quicken Loans Arena, where GOP delegates cheered Chris Cox, the National Rifle Association’s top lobbyist.

Cox argued November’s election could mean a young mother with a baby won’t be able to get a gun to defend herself from a home intruder.

Nothing in either party’s platform comes close to keeping a young mother from owning a gun.

Come to think of it, thanks to Congress’ inaction, anyone on the terrorism watch list can buy a gun. So can a felon, convict or suspect who goes on Craigslist.

Is that who we want to make America safe for?

How about the 301,000 killed in 10 years? The 7,633 killed this year?

The people in charge weren’t going to talk about making America safe for them.

More than 100 times since 2011, Congress failed to approve even the meekest of gun control measures.

They wouldn’t act in 2012 after 20 first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School were slaughtered by Adam Lanza.

They wouldn’t act last month after Omar Mateen, who’d been investigated by the FBI before he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, killed 49 people and injured 53 others in an Orlando nighclub. It was the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

Even then, Congress refused to pass a bill that would keep guns out of the hands of people on America’s terrorist watch list.

Two nights after GOP delegates waved “Make America Safe Again” signs, Alonzo Jackson was pumping gas at a Capitol Heights station, not too far from the Capitol. Police said a gunman shot the 68-year-old dead and stole his car.

How about making America safe for people like him?

Twitter: @petulad.

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