The sheer horror of massacres like the one in Newtown -- and before that those in Oak Creek and Aurora and Tucson and Blacksburg and Columbine and... -- gets our attention, and should. But as every gun-safety expert has pointed out, the much greater overall toll is from the hourly, nonstop, one-on-one murders across the country. President Obama was careful to note this in including "a street corner in Chicago" in his list, at the Newtown commemorations, of the recent sites of gun-borne tragedy.
Dina Rasor has written about this daily toll in an extraordinary article in Truthout
. The headline could make it sound as if it's a policy piece:
And it does contain data, for instance this from the Children's Defense Fund:
Between 1979 and 2009, gun deaths among white children and teens have decreased by 44 percent, compared to an overall 30 percent increase among black children and teens over the same period.
But overall it is a very powerful personal narrative, as compelling its way as anything we have heard form Newtown. I knew Rasor years ago when we were both living in Washington and working the defense-policy beat. Whether or not you had ever heard of her before, you will find this a remarkable portrait of our times and of the problems we confront.
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is a staff writer for The Atlantic
and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are the authors of the 2018 book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America,
which was a national best seller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.