By the numbers


This column will be by the numbers: 32 dead in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting; 26 dead, 20 six-year-olds and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012; last week 17 dead at a large Parkland, Florida high school; and 13 dead, 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School in 1999. That is 88 children and teachers shot and killed while attending classes in only four of the hundreds of school shootings over the last 20 years.


If I don’t stick to math and go off on an emotional tirade about mass murder, it will surely be dismissed as simply a liberal’s rant. Besides, there are people out there who are more qualified than me to pull at your heart-strings and stir your anger. Those better equipped speakers are a 14-year-old who told of seeing blood and bodies as he fled his school, a father who did not lose his child, but was cut off from communication for an hour without knowing her fate, and a brave, but shaken teacher who had to apply her “active shooter” training. There are also people like Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Florida Governor Rick Scott, and Speaker Paul Ryan who made my blood boil with shallow, tiresome rhetoric about “not being the time for discussion”, while avoiding any confessions or showing any regret about how they have worked tirelessly to make buying a gun as easy as humanly possible to please the National Rifle Association (Sen. Rubio has received $3.3 million so far and Rep. Ryan $172,000 for his last election, more than any other Representative in NRA dollars).


You’ve got plenty of words, pro and con, to listen to, so I’ll try to stick to numbers.


We count the dead as the victims, but the spectrum of victims is much, much broader. Consider those 88 fatalities. If they each had two parents, a sibling, and four grandparents, that makes 616 more victims who are left to deal with a lost child. They will never be the same. Those 88 had friends who will miss their mates just as much as family. But, we must return to the high school freshman above who saw his peers strewn about in pools of their own blood. There were some 3,000 students at the Parkland high school, 1,200 at Columbine, 305 at Sandy Hook Elementary, and over 30,000 at Virginia Tech who may have witnessed a scene from which they will never recover. In thoughtful or lonely hours, they will be forced to relive an hour or so of their young lives that was frightening beyond words and re-experience feelings of not knowing if they would live or die. This is the stuff of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Victims all.


At this rate, it is pretty easy to see that the victim count in just these four attacks is in the thousands. Multiply that by the total number of shootings to see that millions of Americans will forever have a dark spot on their lives placed there by a domestic terrorist who managed to get ahold of a gun–many with the blessing of the United States Congress.


There have been 18 school shootings in 2018, and we are only 52 days into the year. That equates to seven five-day school weeks or one shooting every-other day in places where we send our most precious treasure to not only learn, but to be safe. In 2017 there were 70 school shootings. There have been 1,600 mass shootings in the United States since Sandy Hook–six years. 239 of those were in schools with 400 plus gunshot victims–about one school shooting a week. Our record isn’t good.


A full 95% of U.S. citizens support gun legislation, especially small steps like making rigorous background checks a must to buy any gun, limiting clip capacity, and making illegal any altering to the ability to shoot more rounds faster. The NRA will have none of it. They build a Trumpesque wall around the Second Amendment that shall not be encroached upon, not an inch, no matter what.


When we understand that NRA views are propaganda, in the interest of manufactures, and not fact, we also see remedies that do not violate the Second Amendment. Simple statistics show that the states with the most guns and laxest gun laws have the most gun deaths, the most suicides by guns, and most police death by gunshot. The states that have the fewest guns and strictest gun laws have the fewest gun deaths. That is a pretty simple reality.


In 1996, 22 years ago, there was a mass school shooting in England. 16 students and a teacher were killed. Parliament immediately took action and an act, followed by another in 1997 effectively banned private ownership of any handgun. Australia followed suit with strict gun laws the same year after 35 were killed in Tasmania. There has not been a mass school shooting in either country since.


Therefore, if we take these realities to their logical conclusions, the best way to lessen the gun carnage that is a uniquely American problem rendering 10,000 to 15,000 dead each year, is to make it much harder to qualify for gun ownership, manufacture and sell fewer guns, and limit the lethality of the weapons we do sell.


Our own states and the countries with which we share this planet have proof by the numbers.



  1. Julie Avirett says:

    Unfortunately, rational thought seems to have been left behind by many who don’t want to share complicity with the NRA for the mounting death toll. Much easier to blame someone or something else rather than take responsibility.

  2. Burton Weast says:

    Mr. Donnelly, please give me your plan for collecting the 400 plus million guns in this country. Every elected official in America wants to know.

    • Terry Donnelly says:

      Mr. Weast, thank you for your comment, but you misunderstood my suggested remedies. They were all geared toward the future and moving forward. I in no way suggested a collection of owned firearms. The remedy doesn’t require confiscation. If your sink is overflowing, turn off the spigot. Then, even if you do nothing, no further damage will ensue. Likely, the water level will eventually start to recede and will eventually completely drain. The 1994-2004 assault weapons ban worked much like this in its 10 years of being in effect. No guns were ever collected and by the time the law was sun-setting, police were finding fewer and fewer assault type weapons being used in crimes and of those found only a very few had more than a 10-round capacity, the limit of the law. If we had not let the law sunset 14 years ago, we’d be in even better shape today. Not to worry, you don’t need to contact “every elected official in America” with any breaking news.

  3. I was a hunter for years, a shooter for many more and an NRA member until that membership really did become a badge of shame. I believe in my defined rights under the second amendment, but my belief is in just what it says. It does not provide for or support the potential for mass murder. NRA members are being led to resist any action that might help slow or even stop this madness. The gun manufacturers howl through the NRA that if you allow any change, those feds will use it to come and take your guns. The actual truth likely is that if shooters don’t support some common sense changes, the voting public may well reach a point that they will demand and get changes that do threaten gun ownership. Congress braces up the NRA gun wall, but for each member there exists a single goal that reaches far beyond any amount of gun money. They must get re-elected or find an actual job. Nothing is more important to them and many are busy scrubbing off their NRA brand and wondering if they can survive. Wise up Shooters, you are being led down the a very slippery slope.

  4. Ruth Pacheco says:

    I agree, get rid of those damn lobbyist that bribe everyone in Congress including the congressmen & women who accept the bribes!! VOTE THEM …Learn who they are. It scares me to know what this country is coming to. We need to stand up & fight back, it is our country people!!

  5. Ruth Pacheco says:

    Sorry, I left VOTE THEM OUT in my previous comment.

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