A Message from the President of Americans Against Gun Violence
August 22, 2016
"It always seems impossible until it's done."
At the time of my writing this message, it’s been a little over two months since the worst mass shooting in US history – the Pulse nightclub massacre on June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Florida, in which 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded. During the past two months, the United States has gone through its usual cycle of responding to horrific, high profile shootings. The cycle begins with shock and disbelief, followed by grief and outrage, followed by calls for action, followed by pushback from the gun lobby, and ending – as far as Congress and the mainstream media are concerned – with inaction and amnesia. Americans Against Gun Violence, with your support and active involvement, is committed to stopping this cycle by raising awareness of the daily toll of gun violence in our country and working toward the adoption of definitive gun control laws.
Thanks to the many membership payments and additional donations we’ve received, over the past two months, we’ve been able to significantly upgrade the Americans Against Gun Violence website. To help ensure that the Pulse nightclub massacre and other high profile shootings are not forgotten – along with the more than 270 shootings that occur on an average day in our country – we’ve included a ticker at the top of the home page that lists the more notorious shootings, beginning with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
We’ve taken pictures of some of our many supporters who are willing to “take a stand against gun violence.” Some of these photos are featured on the banner of our new website. Others can be seen by clicking on the link, “See who else is taking a stand against gun violence” at the bottom of the About Us page.
We’ve updated the Facts and FAQ’s page of our website to include specific recommendations on actions that you can take right now to help stop gun violence in our country. We’ve also added a new article on the Facts and FAQ's page that discusses the true history and intent of the Second Amendment.
We’ve spoken with numerous individuals, elected officials, candidates for elected office, and members of clubs and committees about the need to adopt stringent gun control regulations in our country comparable to those already in place in every other high income democratic country of the world – countries in which mass shootings are rare or non-existent and in which overall rates of firearm related deaths are much lower than in the USA. At our urging, several of these clubs and committees have passed resolutions calling for the adoption of complete bans on all semi-automatic rifles and semi-automatic shotguns, similar to the ban adopted in Australia in 1996 just 13 days after the infamous Port Arthur massacre – a ban that is still in place today and that virtually eliminated mass shootings in Australia.
We’ve reached out to the leadership of other organizations involved in gun violence prevention at the local, national, and international levels to express our support for the incremental steps that they’re working on, but at the same time to stress the need for definitive gun control measures. For more information on the importance of the role of Americans Against Gun Violence in this regard, please read the article by Rebecca Peters, winner of the Australian Human Rights Medal for her role in getting the Australian gun ban passed, on the Newsletter page of this website.
And we’ve contacted elected officials and media outlets to let them know that it’s not acceptable to consistently distort the terms of the gun control debate and the true meaning and history of the Second Amendment with the use of terms such as “Second Amendment supporters,” “protectors of the Second Amendment,” and “gun rights advocates,” to describe what the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger described as “one of the greatest pieces of fraud on the American public” that he had seen in his lifetime.
But we’re just getting started toward achieving our ultimate goal of reducing rates of firearm related deaths and injuries in the United States to levels at or below those in every other high income democratic country of the world. To reach that goal, we’ll need more activism and support on your part, including help in reaching out to others to join our cause. I’ve described some of the challenges that we face in more detail in my August 12 message, Trump, Clinton, and the Second Amendment, which is archived on the President’s Message page of the Americans Against Gun Violence website.
The obstacles to enacting definitive gun control measures in the United States are daunting, but as the late Nobel Peace Prize Winner and South African leader Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” And you can help in getting it done. If you haven’t joined Americans Against Gun Violence already, please go to the Join/Donate page of this website today to become a charter member and to make an additional donation, if you’re able. And please encourage friends, family members, and colleagues to do the same. If they reply, as some people have replied to me, that our cause is futile, I suggest that you share the Nelson Mandela quote with them and invite them to join us in turning the impossible into the inevitable.
Bill Durston, MD
President, Americans Against Gun Violence
Note: Dr. Durston is a retired emergency physician, a combat veteran, and a former expert marksman in the U.S. Marine Corps, decorated for courage under fire during the Vietnam War.