There’s a saying that goes something along the lines of “one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” The purpose is to point out that we become detached from large numbers as opposed to a single individual. It’s part of why so many political strategies revolve around trying to reframe statistics into individual stories.
That’s especially true when it comes to the gun debate. Anti-gun crusaders often trot out the family members of people slain in gun violence to share the stories of their loss. The idea is to stir up emotion and cause people to embrace their cause. We do the same thing, to be fair. We routinely share stories here about people using guns to save their lives or the lives of someone else.
The problem for them is how do you put those faces and names in front of the people who make political decisions? Those who will attend rallies are already on their side, after all.
Someone’s plan? Create a “yearbook” of people killed in school shootings this year and send it to politicians.
A yearbook that commemorates last year’s victims of gun violence in educational institutions will be sent to President Donald Trump, 2020 presidential candidates and U.S. senators and governors in a bid to jolt the country’s political leadership into action on gun control.
An appearance in the annual school publication is normally a rite of passage for young people who have their futures ahead of them, but the group behind the 2018 Yearbook say their aim is to remind people how such futures can be cut short.
Each of the 37 victims has their name next to an empty box where their photo would normally be.
It marks every death that occurred last year in a K-12 school, university or on a school bus or vehicle, while school was in session or during a school-sponsored event. The book does not include suicides, self-inflicted injuries or the shooters who died during their attacks.
The project was announced this week by nonprofits COMMON, Search for Common Ground, Amani Project and Scarlett Lewis, whose son was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
The groups have described gun violence in schools as “a national epidemic.” On the 2018 Yearbook website, it says the project was about “bearing witness to a uniquely American tragedy and finding the courage to do something about it.
“Because even at a time when we seem so divided, we must be united in the belief that children should not be shot to death at school. It is that simple,” it said.
The problem is, we are. Absolutely no one is saying that kids should be shot to death at school. No one at all.
Where we run into a problem is in how to deal with it. Anti-gun advocates won’t listen to any proposal that isn’t gun control while we refuse to give up our rights, understanding that giving up our rights doesn’t stop bad people from doing horrible things.
Frankly, the issue isn’t understanding there’s a problem, it’s in figuring out how to address it when neither side is willing to give up any ground. Especially when we on this side are convinced giving up ground won’t do a damn thing to stop the problem. After all, California recently had a spate of high-profile shootings despite having a reputation of being tough on guns.
Now, to be fair, these groups aren’t explicitly gun control groups. Search for Common Ground is a fairly neutral organization, apparently, and are just trying to pressure people to work together. I can’t find anything on the other two groups that suggests they’re explicitly anti-gun. As such, it’s probably not fair to present them as such.
Still, this is the kind of tactic you’d expect from anti-gunners, and it’ll yield the exact same results.
No one just looks at dead kids and shrugs it off. No one who isn’t a complete sociopath, anyway. We’re all hurt and impacted when we see that kind of thing happen.
Yet when one side has historically been the only side giving anything up in past debates, maybe it’s time to start pressuring the other side to give a little on this subject. It would be a nice change of pace, at least.