Vigil on Dec. 14 to Connect the Dots Between Newtown and Wilmington
A public vigil will be held from noon until 2:00 on Sunday, Dec. 14, at the corner of Whitby Road and Concord Pike, connecting the dots between Newtown, Conn., and Wilmington. In the two years since 28 lives were lost in Newtown, 41 residents of Wilmington have become homicide victims—all but a few killed by guns.
The high-visibility corner is the site of the Memorial to the Lost, a symbolic T-shirt memorial to the victims of gun violence and other forms of homicide in Wilmington. The memorial was installed on Dec. 6 by members of First Unitarian Church and their partners from the Movement for a Culture of Peace, including DeCAGV.
Members of the church will dedicate the memorial during Sunday’s worship service at 10:30 a.m. All are welcome to attend the service.
The two-hour vigil will begin at noon along Concord Pike. Its purpose to bring greater attention to the ongoing carnage in Wilmington, which this year has tied an all-time record for homicides (27) set in 2010. All are welcome to participate—even if you can’t stay for the full duration of the vigil. Bring signs or banners if you have them.
The Newtown Action Alliance is organizing events in all 50 states to commemorate the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre—and this is Delaware’s chance to be part of that national movement.
The Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence supports this action and urges you to attend. The event is listed on DeCAGV’s Facebook page. Give us a like!
Blame the Gun Lobby.
In recent months, the public face of the U.S. government’s response to the Ebola epidemic has been Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control.
Writing in Health Affairs, J. Stephen Morrison calls Frieden “invaluable,” reporting that “though he may have erred on occasion, [Frieden’s] statements to the American public were overwhelmingly lucid, consistent, powerful, and closely echoed by the President and other senior officials.”
Although it makes sense that the director of the CDC should be out front in talking about the epidemic, there is powerful voice missing from the public discussion: the Surgeon General of the United States. The fact is that, since July 2013, the United States has not had a Surgeon General.
Why? The nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy for that position has been held up by the gun lobby. That’s right: The NRA and its allies have opposed confirmation of a well-qualified public health expert to the position because they think he might want to frame gun violence as a public health issue.
Writing in The Nation, Zoë Carpenter points out that:
This isn’t the first time the NRA has held up a nominee: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives went without a director for seven years because of opposition from the gun lobby. But never before has the group set itself so strongly against a surgeon general nominee. So why now? The NRA said Murthy’s ‘blatant activism on behalf of gun control’ attracted their attention.
But the gun lobby’s campaign against Murthy isn’t really about his record, or him at all. His positions on guns are hardly radical or even activist and his views are consistent with those of the majority of Americans. Polling indicates that the public is far more supportive of new gun control laws than members of Congress or, certainly, the NRA.
Furthermore, Murthy’s views represent a consensus among medical professionals that gun violence is a major public health issue. Gun violence, including suicide, kills some 30,000 Americans every year, about the same number as car accidents. Cars are highly regulated for health and safety; guns, barely. Accordingly, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among many others, have called for stronger gun safety laws. It would be surprising if, as a doctor, Murthy did not have concerns about gun violence and the strength of current regulations.
With public health professionals engaging more forcefully on the gun issue, the NRA has a pressing interest in muting their calls for stronger policy. Really, the campaign against Murthy is the continuation of a longstanding effort to make discussion of gun violence taboo. For years the NRA has worked to bury information about gun violence and its public health implications.
Delaware Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons have already expressed support for Dr. Murthy’s nomination. But in the wake of the mid-term elections, there’s a strong possibility that the NRA will push for its members to make anti-Murthy calls to the Senate. Members of DeCAGV are urged to do two things:
- Call or send email to Senators Carper and Coons to thank them for their support of Vivek Murthy and for a sensible public-health approach to gun violence. Their contact information is here.
- Stand with Vivek Murthy. Sign the national petition.
- Learn more about the epidemic of violence at the National Physicians Network.