Hungarian author Frigyes Karinty penned a short story, “Chains,” that historians say has the first mention of the concept of six degrees of separation.
That story first appeared in 1929, when the world’s population was just more than 2 billion. The six degrees of separation theory focused on the idea that every person on the planet was only six social connections away from everyone else. So, essentially, we all are linked in some way.
Not so difficult to believe, when the population was 2 billion. A bit more difficult today, with Earth’s population closing in on 7 billion people. That’s a lot of relatives and/or friends.
Sadly, there is another way to look at the six-degrees theory, and it is demonstrated almost daily in America — that you or someone you know has been affected by a mass shooting. There were three such gun-violence events in the past several days, with a death toll of more than 30 people in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.
We can remember the carnage at Columbine High School two decades ago, after which so many of our nation’s elected leaders insisted it was “too soon” to discuss gun control, or that more laws cannot prevent such “incidents.”
Since the 2012 “incident” at Sandy Hook Elementary School there have been more than 2,000 mass shootings in America, killing more than 2,300 and wounding 8,400 more. A mass shooting is defined as when four or more people are shot by a single gunman. Many of those incidents have involved far more than four people.
Here’s our question: If the slaughter of 20 elementary school children failed to compel members of Congress to take gun violence more seriously, what will?
If you have an answer, please write to us. We honestly have no answer. Criminals killing criminals is one thing. A deranged, anti-social teenager killing grade schoolers is something entirely different.
The types of guns being used in modern mass shootings are weapons that have little use, other than to kill the maximum number of people. Maybe our elected leaders could start with that premise, and at least do something about wholly unnecessary firearms. Just because some Americans believe the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives them the right to own such high-powered firearms — the amendment doesn’t say that — does not mean they should, or even be able to own such weapons.
Actually, there are a number of potentially effective gun-control laws already on the books, but recent incidents make it abundantly clear that more needs to be done.
A first step would be better background checking. Universal checks, no matter who is purchasing the weapon, are supported by more than 80 percent of adult Americans. Next, keep guns out of the hands of obvious bad actors, such as anyone on a federal terrorist watch list. And finally, ban assault-style weapons, which the military needs but not anyone else in a civil society.
Now, if anyone reading this disagrees with those simple recommendations, please drop us a line and explain your logic, because we can’t see that there is any logic to condoning the ownership and indiscriminate use of rapid-fire killing machines.
All that needs to happen now, before every American is somehow related or known to every other American who is gunned down. With regard to gun violence, there is virtually no degree of separation in this country — a fact our elected leaders are aware of. They continue, however, to hide behind political ideology, even knowing someone they love could be the next victim.