Fred L. Goldenberg: Gun violence continues to impact us all

Jan. 29—There have been more mass shootings than number of days so far in 2023. Let that sink in.

In the first three weeks of 2023, there were 39 mass shootings. A mass shooting is defined by the Congressional Research Service as multiple, firearm, homicide incidents, involving four or more victims at one or more locations close to one another. The FBI defines a mass killing as three or more killings in a single incident. Everytown For Gun Safety defines a mass shooting as any incident in which four or more people are shot and killed, excluding the shooter.

No matter how you define it — it's an unending epidemic of gun violence.

The latest occurring in Half Moon Bay, California (but by the time you read this there might be several more reported), an idyllic coastal town in the San Francisco Bay area. Previously, Half Moon Bay was famous for the Blue Lady, a ghost that haunts the Moss Beach Distillery. Now it's joined a list of mass shooting sites where "it can't happen here" was the preconceived notion.

You may recall my writing about my son and his family being a hair's breadth away from ground zero at the Highland Park, Illinois shooting. My grandchildren are still dealing with the aftereffects.

On Wednesday last week one of my closest friends passed away after a long illness and when our 5-year old heard we lost a "friend," he insisted that he had to call and in tears he told us how sorry he was that we lost our friend and wanted to make sure we were OK. At 5 he witnessed the traumatic aftermath of a community in grief and knew what to do and say when you lose a "friend." No 5-year old should have to learn that lesson through a hail of bullets.

In 2014 there were 273 mass shooting and that number grew to 647 in 2022, an increase of more than 230% in eight years. The American Medical Association last year published an analysis of firearm deaths over the past three decades and found that since 1990 more than 1 million lives have been lost to gun violence.

The Switzerland Small Arms Survey estimates there are one billion privately owned guns in the world with 394 million owned in the U.S. That's 120 guns for every 100 Americans. We have almost 40% of guns with only 4.4% of the world's population. In a 2022 Gallup survey 45% of U.S. adults say they live in a house with a gun.

On June 25, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law. Making it the first new gun regulations passed by Congress in more than 30 years. Sixty-four percent of Americans are in favor of the new law, which cracks down on unlicensed firearms dealers and increases background checks on anyone under the age of 21.

It was a start.

Last Monday, President Biden, after the shootings in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park, urged Congress to pass two additional bills in front of them seeking to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and raise the purchasing age to 21.

Over 60% of Americans want commonsense gun control laws to be in place and enforced. Yet the Pew Research Center found that more than 74% believe that no amount of legislation will curb the tide of gun violence we see today.

Yet it has been done. Australia, less than two weeks after its worst mass shooting, banned rapid-fire rifles and shotguns. South Africa's Firearms Control Act of 200 cut deaths in half in 10 years. New Zealand's parliament, 24 hours after the Christchurch Mosque killings, voted unanimously to ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons. Gun deaths dropped by half.

In Michigan, since the Oxford High School shooting in December 2021, there has been 30 additional mass shootings with 115 lost lives.

If Congress won't do it, we most certainly can do it by state. Illinois just passed an assault weapons ban and so can we. For the first time in 40 years Michigan has the legislative ability to ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.

It's time we did the right thing and save lives.

Fred L. Goldenberg is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and the owner of Senior Benefit Solutions, LLC, a financial services and certified health insurance organization, now affiliated with Michigan Planners in Traverse City. With any questions or comments about this column or interest in monthly Medicare classes, please call 231-922-1010 or