We know we join with all of our fellow Boston-area citizens in praying for the speedy recovery of East Boston police officers Richard Cintolo and Matt Morris, as well as the two year-old Roxbury girl, who were shot this past week in separate incidents.
The East Boston police officers were responding to a domestic violence call when they were shot in an unprovoked attack. But for the incredible and brave reactions of their fellow officers, who brought Officers Cintolo and Morris to safety and then provided triage at the scene, both officers would have died.
As for the two-year child in Roxbury, she was caught in the cross-fire of a gang shooting involving her father.
Both incidents are symptomatic of the culture of gun violence that is pervasive in America in the 21st century.
The most recent crime report from the FBI reveals that violent crime across our country continues to decline, other than in a few of our inner cities, most notably in Chicago, where the murder rate remains stubbornly high. In fact, a news article just last week in the New York Times revealed that arrests for simple marijuana possession outnumber arrests for all categories of violent crime combined across the entire U.S.
However, when news events such as those in East Boston and Roxbury occur so close to home, the tragedy of gun violence truly makes us aware that shootings are more than just a statistic on a government chart.
Consider these numbers: Approximately 11,000 Americans have been murdered by a firearm every year since 2001 — about 300 of our fellow citizens each and every day of the year. That’s a total of 165,000 U.S. citizens slain by a gun in the past 15 years, a figure that dwarfs the 2996 persons who perished in the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the 5793 combat deaths of U.S. military personnel in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the current fight with ISIS in that same time period.
Americans favor many forms of common-sense gun ownership regulations, including expanded background checks (85%), laws to prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns (79%), and creation of a federal database to track all gun sales (70%). A majority (57%) also support a ban on assault-style weapons.
We are not suggesting that these laws by themselves will end gun violence, but they unquestionably are a key piece of the puzzle in reducing the most serious threat to the safety and security of both our brave police officers and American citizens of all ages.
So let us hold officers Cintolo and Morris and that two-year old girl in our thoughts and prayers — and let’s pray too, that our politicians will have the political courage to end the violence that shatters far too many lives in our country.