Days in January: 31. Number of mass shootings in the US as of January 25, according to the Gun Violence Archive: 40. (I pray the number hasn't gone up by the time you read this.)
From cries of madness to tears of rage; from citizen fury to congressional prayers, we careen toward a future where a visit to a ballroom dance studio (Monterey Park), mushroom farm (Half Moon Bay), or gas station (Oakland)—all in California—could be the location where you are murdered. Add those sites to this incomplete list: movie theaters, houses of worship, big box stores, and that old standby: schools.
Speaking of schools, let's pause for a moment to contemplate the dystopian story of a six-year-old boy who shot his teacher at a school in Virginia, using a gun his mother had legally purchased. We have safety caps on Tylenol that many adults struggle to open, and we can't prevent a child from firing a gun?
Sadly, in addition to schools being where you might find victims of shootings, it's also where you can likely now turn to find a new crop of shooters, courtesy of the gun lobby.
Get ready for the WEE1 Tactical JR-15 rifle, designed specifically for children. This "rifle for kids," the JR-15 rifle—get it, "junior"-sized—is sold by the WEE1 Tactical firearm company. And, good news, kids: it only weighs two pounds.
In a press release, the company wrote: "Our goal was to develop a shooting platform that was not only sized correctly, and safe, but also looks, feels, and operates just like Mom and Dad's gun... The WEE1 and Schmid Tool Team brought their collective experience in the firearms business… to launch the JR-15. We are so excited to start capturing the imagination of the next generation."
While the JR-15 is a .22 caliber rifle—commonly used for hunting small game or for marksmanship, the JR-15 is manufactured with a distinctly military and tactical look so it resembles an AR-15, you know, the weapon most commonly used in countless mass shootings.
Enough is freakin' enough. Time's up, America.
How about adults—parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles—getting off the couch so the Parkland high school generation of anti-gun activists doesn't have to do all the heavy lifting? What is stopping us from showing up en masse at meetings of our city councils and school boards? When are some of us going to our state capitols and the halls of Congress, sitting in outside legislators' offices? And when are others picketing in front of the corporate offices of the gun manufacturers? If there was such a thing as a nonviolent insurrection to stop gun violence, we ought to wage it now.
There have been modest gains in recent years, thanks to the tireless effort of hardworking advocates and activists, but nothing has worked… yet. From Sandy Hook to Uvalde, the gun rights über alles crowd keeps on keepin' on.
Consider what Republican extremist Georgia Congressmember Marjorie Taylor Greene said after the horrifying mass murder of 19 children and two teachers last May: "The kids at Uvalde needed JR-15s to defend themselves..." This is madness.
We must stop the (gun crowd) steal; we have to stop them from stealing our lives.
A couple of years ago somebody said—in a completely different context—"we [need to] fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."
Well, we can have a country, if we launch a sustained nationwide, nonviolent movement to end the scourge of gun violence.
Dammit! What are we waiting for?
This content originally appeared on Common Dreams and was authored by Rob Okun.