ONE-YEAR-OLD Maleah Williams was in her mother’s arms on Christmas Day in a parking lot where other children were playing with their new toys when she was shot in the head in a drive-by shooting. The Chapel Hill, N.C., toddler died three days later. What made her death even more hideous is that it wasn’t an anomaly.
Twenty-six other people — including the owner of a barbershop in Alabama, a Texas grandfather and a young couple in Ohio — were shot and killed on Christmas Day 2015, according to the Gun Violence Archive. It counted 63 other people injured by gun violence in a tally that didn’t include suicides. In all, as The Post’s Christopher Ingraham observed, more people died in the United States on Christmas Day from shootings than the number of people killed in gun homicides in an entire year in Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Estonia, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Iceland combined.
What sets the United States apart from these other countries is, of course, our irresponsibly lax policies on gun ownership. Weapons with military features that are designed for war are legally available to civilians. Any controls that do exist to try to prevent them or the more ubiquitous handgun from falling into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them are weak and easy to circumvent.
The result is that the United States has more guns than other developed countries, and that translates into more homicides, accidental shootings and suicides. That Maleah was one of nearly 700 children under age 12 who were killed or injured in gun violence in 2015 is a national disgrace. That there were 2,671 other children between ages 12 and 17 who were killed or injured is a further abomination.
A series of horrifically high-profile shootings in 2015 — 14 dead and 21 wounded in San Bernardino, Calif.; three dead and nine injured in Colorado Springs; nine dead and seven injured in Roseburg, Ore.; five dead and two wounded in Chattanooga, Tenn.; nine dead in Charleston, S.C. — have brought new attention to the issue of gun violence.
President Obama, previously discouraged by his inability to get Congress to enact even modest reforms in the wake of the massacre of Connecticut schoolchildren in the weeks before another Christmas, rediscovered his voice on the issue. The Democratic candidates for president are talking about the need for gun control, something long seen as toxic to anyone on the campaign trail. Some states are exploring ways they can impose better limits. And there is encouraging work being done by gun-control advocates, such as Everytown for Gun Safety, in building grass-roots support by emphasizing the damage caused by gun violence. Its recently announced partnership with the National Basketball Association aims to be a counterbalance to the oversize influence of the National Rifle Association.
2016 is set to start; we hope for meaningful action so that it won’t end like other years, with another grim year-end tally cataloguing the lives needlessly lost because of guns and easy access to them.
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