The story of gun violence, and our efforts to stop it, is not only the story of 2013, it is the moral crisis of our time.
So why do I feel our resolve is already weakening when it comes to this terrifying issue? Are we so callous in our collective consciousness that we could seamlessly shift to a vapid debate about the gratuitous violence of Django Unchained once the 26 victims of real-life violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School were buried?
There's hope, I hope. Calling the Sandy Hook tragedy "the worst day of my presidency," President Obama commissioned a group headed by Vice President Biden - and including Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey - to come up with a comprehensive gun-control plan this month. They're talking about things like universal background checks, a database to track the sale and movement of guns, and strengthening penalties for carrying guns near schools.
Makes no sense
Which is all good, of course, but it's not enough. I like former Gov. Ed Rendell's suggestion: Outlaw sale, distribution, import, and possession of assault rifles. Same with high-capacity magazines, as well as guns with rapid-fire capability. Heck, I'm for banning assault weapons for civilians altogether.
And why anyone should be able to buy a gun at a gun show or on the Internet without a background check makes absolutely no sense to me.
But instead of issuing a full-throated demand for these kinds of reforms and voting against the politicians who don't support them, we've actually allowed the NRA to tell us that the only way to combat guns in schools is to put more guns in schools.
Please. As if Wayne LaPierre is a voice of reason and not the crackpot he revealed himself to be.
In fact, gun-lobby organizations have declared Jan. 19 National Gun Day, urging their supporters to line up at gun stores, gun shows, and shooting ranges, the weapons version of last year's Chick-fil-A protest.
Even with a presidential mandate, we know all too well how political will can fizzle.
I'm convinced that the only way we can get any traction on gun control is if we, the people, advocate for it ourselves.
Social media campaign
The Sandy Hook massacre spurred immediate action among social media users. A 500-member Facebook group, "Not the NRA," posts articles and information to "help people better understand the realities of gun and gun ownership," says Bill England, one of the group's administrators.
England, who lives with his wife and daughter in Cheltenham, says the wishes of like-minded citizens are simple: Get assault weapons off the streets; see sensible gun laws put in place.
"The NRA is spending tons of money every day lobbying," he said. "The only chance I see that [lawmakers] don't forget about communities is to not settle for what we had in the past."
Maybe a bottom-up approach is what we need. Ramsey, president of the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association, is one of the most respected law enforcement officers in the country. Mayor Nutter is working on reform on a national level with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, headed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Yet, here we are, eight days into the new year, and already six homicides. We suffered through 331 homicides in 2012, 80 percent of the victims black males. Have you seen those signs that read, "Don't shoot. I want to grow up"? They aren't just bumper stickers. They're pleas.
Over the years, thousands of dead black men and boys couldn't persuade us to to do something about the scourge of guns in our communities.
Maybe a classroom full of innocent first graders will.