By Thomas C. Sheffield
Desensitized to gun violence? When will it end? How many more times will our regularly scheduled program have to be interrupted with a special report of a mass shooting? We have become desensitized to the many violent crimes in the past 10 years.
According to the American Psychological Association, gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the U. S. Guns kill almost 30,000 people and cause 60,000 injuries each year. The time for waking up to the reports of gun violence on the news is over. Gun violence does not bring value to our society of to future generations.
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, gun-related deaths in the state of Tennessee rose from 943 in 2006 to 1,020 in 2014. I refuse to believe we cannot stop this trend. Consider the decline in the amount of vehicle-related deaths in that same time period. In 2006, 1,284 people died in vehicle-related accidents. This dropped to 963 deaths in 2014. The change is in large part due to the mandatory seat belt laws and the “Click It or Ticket” campaign. There was a debate that the seat belt law invaded privacy when it was signed into law in 1986.
I refuse to rest on the belief of our country’s greatness and our patriotism. Our patriotism should not be shown solely in the times we pull together when there is a great tragedy. We are great because we are willing to do things that no one else will do. Now is the time for the citizens to speak up and take action. We are world leaders in thought and deeds but this leadership does carry a huge responsibility. We must balance personal responsibility with public policy and elect those wise enough to know the difference. Voting not only brings value to our lives but value to the lives of those yet born. And it is sustainable.
It is time to reign in our leaders and their willingness to allow the gun lobby to dictate the gun laws in our lands. If you are fed up with the epidemic of gun violence in our community, but you have not yet contacted your elected representatives to make your voice heard, now is the time. It is shameful that the gun lobby has priority over so many of our politicians who are supposed to represent us. We need to contact the leaders of our state. Gov. Bill Haslam’s office can be reached at 615-741-2001. All Tennessee state legislators may be reached at 1-800-449-8366. Please visit capitol.tn.gov for a listing of your state representatives. It is an election year and it is time for them to hear from you.
(Thomas C. Sheffield owns Nashville-based Thom Sustainable Consultants. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit thomsustainableconsulting.com. Follow @tcsheff.)