It may be news, but it's nothing new.
The loss of a young life is always a tragedy.
The knowledge that it was preventable is even worse.
But worst of all is knowing that politicians and millions of supporters actively campaign against preventing the deaths of young people caused by firearms.
Gun culture is nothing new in America; we are a country born of dissent, disloyalty, and rebellion. Our Bill of Rights came forward at a time when the threat of oppression was still a recent memory, and our freedom came at the grave price of the thousands of patriots who died for the cause.
But today we see a threat much more terrifying and real than any foreign Crown: Ourselves. Each year that goes by, we see few things more threatening to the lives and wellness of Americans than our own guns, whether deliberate or accidental.
The Times They Are a Changin’
As we established our own nation, we first defended the freedom of speech, the rights of the press, and our individual rights to faith. These are inalienable rights we’ve largely defended ever since, albeit with transgressions against various minorities over time or for matters of national security.
Secondly, we defended the need for firearms to defend ourselves. Mind you, there were fewer than four million people living in the country at the time the Bill of Rights was written, and the continental United States itself was less than a third the size it is today.
Times have changed; you don’t hear much about the Third Amendment for that very reason. Gun culture has changed, too, as has the technology by which an average of 93 Americans die every day.
Today, rampant gun violence remains a viable threat so lethal and commonplace that we often ignore the stories we hear on the news.
In truth, we’ve been conditioned to associate gun violence and death with cities, urban crime, and with people who illegally obtained their weapons. While this needs to be addressed, to think that these are the only dangers posed by guns is a far cry from the truth.
Why do innocents have to die for us to listen? Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows us that, between 2007 and 2011, an average of 62 children (ages 14 and under) died each year in accidental (or unintentional) shootings.
That rate is 16 times higher than in any other high-income countries.
The Latest Story
When hearing about mass crime and deaths, such as those caused by gun violence, it’s easy to hear the story and separate the facts from the underlying reality. These were humans with friends, families, and lives that died due to gun violence. These were not numbers. These were not just statistics. And yet it takes the tragedy of a child’s death to drive that message home.
Sadly, we’re rarely at loss for such a story.
Last week, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call in Pinetown, North Carolina, and arrived to find the worst situation possible: six-year-old Victoria Whitehurst was dead from a fatal gunshot wound.
Her killer? Her eleven-year-old cousin.