I recently read a study about gun violence. Beyond the staggering horrors of statistics of gun violence that kills 36,000 American yearly, inflicts trauma and pain on communities, and has the sickening price of costing American taxpayers $229 billion annually is that this crisis is “uniquely American.” I like unique. I like being unique and there are so many unique aspects of being an American that I love: Our preservation of public lands and beautiful national parks, our fierce belief in freedom and democracy, our spirit of adventure, knowledge, innovation, and independence. I’ve always been a proud patriot, even when there are actions taken by our nation that I disagree with. And more than anything, I love that this country is allows for dissent and challenges, in addition to its waves of support.
But to be considered unique for our prevalence and increasing gun violence, whether that is mass shootings in schools, houses of worship, public events like concerts, or shopping centers, is not a point of pride. I don’t want our country to be known as “unique” for something like gun violence. We’re unique because of how we were founded. We’re unique because we placed a high value on science and innovation and 50 years ago we went to the moon. We’re unique because we believe in setting the global example for freedom and democracy. Because in America we produce brilliant scholars, artists, writers, inventors, and we’re known around the world for our achievements.
The crisis of gun violence is a problem that we are not incapable of solving. As an American, I know we can solve this. I know that we want to solve this epidemic, just like how we’re tackling the opioid epidemic. I know most of us reject the false claim that gun safety measures are an attack on the Second Amendment because we understand the need to address this public health crisis within the bounds of constitutional rights. I know that we are a nation made of up many different voices, but at the end of the day, we want our communities and families to be safe, to prevent the preventable, and to ensure that our children can attend school to focus on education and not worry about the potential of gun violence. I also know so many gun owners, my family included, who do not wish to be lumped into a category of those who exploit laws and use guns to inflict horror and devastation.
I reject being unique for a statistic that claims 100 American lives a day. We’re long overdue in addressing this crisis, and it’s not out of our grasp. What makes us unique is our capacity for building a brighter, more free nation than anywhere else in the world. We can do this. We can take steps to ending this horrific “uniqueness” of gun violence.
Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.