A Message from the President of Americans Against Gun Violence
January 22, 2017
A National Disgrace
In 1991, in an editorial about gun violence in the United States, the editor of the country’s most prestigious medical journal, the New England Journal of Medicine,wrote, “The death rate from guns has long been a national disgrace.” On January 20, 2017, the epidemic of gun violence in our country just got more disgraceful.
Despite losing the November 8 presidential election by 2.9 million popular votes, a man who opposes universal background checks for gun purchases; who claims that assault weapon bans are a “total failure;” who believes that concealed weapons permits issued in one state should be valid in every other state; who brags of his endorsement by the “very, very good people” at the NRA; who promised to abolish gun free school zones on his first day of office; who vows to appoint Supreme Court justices who will endorse an interpretation of the Second Amendment that the late Chief Justice Warren Burger called “one of the greatest pieces of fraud on the American people” that he had seen in his lifetime; and whose arrogance and petulance are unmatched in modern history was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States.
When we filed the papers to found Americans Against Gun Violence in March of 2016, we could not have anticipated that in January of 2017, a person whose standards of personal conduct and whose positions on gun control were so antithetical to our own as those of Donald J. Trump would become the next president of our country. It’s now more important than ever that we band together, not only to protect the limited firearm regulations that are already on the books, but to demand the adoption of far more stringent gun control regulations comparable to the regulations that have long been 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 and injuries are much lower than in the USA. If you haven’t already done so, please join us as a charter member of Americans Against Gun Violence, and please make an additional contribution if you’re able.
In his inauguration speech, Donald Trump pledged to stop the “carnage” that characterizes his apocalytic view of the current state of the union, although he did not specifically mention gun violence. He stated that he was “issuing a new decree” and that a “new vision will govern our land.” “From here on,” he said, “it’s going to be America first.”
When it comes to gun violence, the United States of America is already first. America is first in firearm homicides with a rate that is 19.5 times higher than in the other 22 high income democratic countries of the world. We are first in firearm suicide with a rate that is 5.8 times higher. And we’re first in firearm related deaths of children under the age of 15 with a rate that is 11.9 times higher.
Trump concluded his inaugural speech by stating, “Together, we will make America great again.” We cannot claim to be a great nation, though, with rates of firearm related deaths and injuries, including firearm related deaths of children, that far exceed those in every other high income democratic country of the world. Fortunately, Trump has already failed to uphold his campaign promise of abolishing gun free school zones on his first day in office. He didn’t have the power to do so. But should he eventually succeed in turning any of his positions on gun control into law or in appointing Supreme Court justices who will endorse a fraudulent interpretation of the Second Amendment, the carnage from gun violence in our country will almost certainly get worse.
Of course, a Donald Trump Presidency is a setback not just for gun violence prevention, but for virtually every other progressive movement in the country. If there’s any good news associated with his inauguration, it’s the outrage that he’s engendered, particularly among women. My wife and I participated in a protest march yesterday in Sacramento along with 20,000 other people, and similar marches took place in hundreds of other cities across the country and abroad, including a protest in Washington DC in which half a million people took part. And of all the progressive movements that Donald Trump threatens, none addresses an issue that is more preventable, more immediately life threatening, and more unique to the United States of America than the movement to stop the epidemic of gun violence that afflicts our country.
It’s critically important that we not only maintain resistance to Donald Trump’s policies, but that we build upon the current momentum. Merely neutralizing Trumpism is not enough, especially when it comes to preventing gun violence, which is already at disgraceful levels in our country. We must demand that all our elected leaders work toward definitive gun control measures comparable to those in place in every other high income democratic country of the world. Such measures include stringent regulation, if not complete bans, on civilian ownership of handguns and semi-automatic rifles.
When historians look back on this troubled time in U.S. history, they will see those of us who resisted Trumpism as the truly great Americans of our era. Please join me in becoming a charter member of Americans Against Gun Violence if you haven’t already done so, and please consider making an additional contribution, if you’re able, to support our work. Please also go to the Facts and FAQ’s page of the Americans Against Gun Violence website to learn more about other steps that you can take right now to help prevent firearm related deaths and injuries.
Thanks for supporting Americans Against Gun Violence. Thanks for being part of the resistance movement. And thanks for working to make the United States of America a truly great nation.
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.