Transcript, Web links and Credits below.
On Saturday evening, at a wonderful festival in Brooklyn just a few miles from my house, 12 people were shot. On Sunday evening, in the Bay Area of San Francisco, at a Garlic Food Festival in Gilroy, 15 people were shot. At least 3 people have died, including a sweet little 6-year-old boy named Stephen Romero.
That’s a staggering 27 people shot in just two mass shootings in less than 24 hours. Either one of those shootings would have been the largest in modern history in most countries. But here, we just called it Saturday and Sunday.
Today I want to unpack and explain how we have so much carnage in this country but so little change. Let’s dig in. This is Shaun King, and you are listening to (The Breakdown)!
The number of people shot and killed by guns in this country started being measured in 1979. That’s the year I was born.
And do you know what the deadliest year ever measured for gun violence in this country was? Last year. Last year was the single deadliest year ever measured for guns in America with nearly 40,000 people shot and killed. School shootings hit a record high in 2018. Gun deaths by suicide hit a record high in 2018. And I don’t just mean in the total number of shootings either — even per capita.
Let me give you what I think is the single most staggering, eye opening stat I can share on guns in the United States: last year, the United States, which is the only nation in the world that has more guns than people, had 121 guns for every 100 people. No other nation crossed 100 guns per 100 people. No other nation crossed 90 guns per 100 people, or 80 guns, or 70 guns per 100 people, or 60 guns per 100 people. In fact, while the United States has 121 guns per 100 people, only one other nation in the entire world even has over 40 guns per 100 people.
Do you want to guess the country? Yemen. A failed state in the midst of a civil war and famine is the only other nation in the world with more than 40 guns per 100 people – and the United States has triple that. Number two is YEMEN, which is widely thought to be the most dangerous, least stable nation in the world right now. Iraq only has 19 guns per 100 people, and the United States has 121.
Do you hear what I’m saying?
We live in the Wild Wild West. The United States is the most heavily armed nation in the history of the world, with millions more guns than we have people — not on accident, but by design.
And I need you to understand that very little happens in this place on accident — not police brutality, not mass incarceration, and damn sure not having more guns than people. That’s not an accident. That’s a grand design.
When you flood a country with 350 million guns; strip down all of the checks and balances and safety measures; refuse to pass even the most basic, common sense gun reforms; and then defund education, defund community centers, and maintain one of the worst mental health systems in the entire world, what the hell did you think was going to happen?
Gun manufacturers don’t care. The NRA and the gun lobby, which spends nearly half a billion dollars per year making sure nothing gets better, damn sure doesn’t care. And so here we are. We have 110 people per day shot and killed in this country — 110 — at schools, at festivals, at parks, at movie theaters, at concerts, on the block, at work, at home, everywhere.
I hardly talk about it — out of equal parts shame and pain — but I literally started carrying a gun when I was just 15 years old. And thank God that my dumbass never shot it at anyone and never got caught with it. That same summer my friends and I got shot at, at close range, and damn near lost our lives — over a bunch of nothing. Nearly 8,000 young Black men were shot and killed last year, almost universally over a bunch of nothing — fake beef, toxic masculinity.
I need to break something down for us, okay?
At my heart, I’m a teacher. And if you don’t mind, I need to teach us a quick lesson, not just about who and what we’re up against. I need to teach us a quick lesson about who makes change and who blocks change and how they do it, okay?
Do you know what “civil rights organization” had the largest budget in the nation last year? It wasn’t the NAACP or the ACLU. It was the NRA. And get this: their budget plummeted by a staggering $82 million, and they still raised and spent $330 million last year alone. That’s WAY more than every single other serious civil rights organization in the country.
And they used that money not so much to make change, but to block it from ever happening. If you listened to episode #59 of The Breakdown podcast, I explain that to make change in this nation you need 4 things: highly energized people, deeply organized people, a sophisticated plan that matches the size and scope of the problem, and it all needs to be well-funded.
Even in a “bad year” for the NRA, they have all 4 of those things, and they have for generations. They’ve now spent, by my calculations, a staggering $3 billion in the past 10 years alone to block all meaningful gun reform. And they are able to do this because they have millions of members who are energized and organized, and they have a complex plan to make sure their agenda gets done. They control the Senate, the presidency, and the Supreme Court right now. That’s power. They control the majority of governors and state legislatures. That’s power.
Right now, their MONTHLY budget is $27.5 million. They are spending $916,000 PER DAY to make sure their agenda happens — PER DAY!
And if we are going to compete, if we are going to actually make change happen in this country on the issues that matter most to us, we have to be highly energized and deeply organized with sophisticated plans that are well funded.
And that’s what we are forming The Action PAC to do. And I want you to be a part of it. We need you to be a part of it.
By the end of this year, our goal is to have 20,000 monthly donors with a monthly budget of at least $300,000. And I know we can do this. The NRA literally spends $300,000 per day, every day, before lunch even begins. But they’ve been doing this since 1871. We’re starting today!
I am asking you now to fit social change into your budget. Just yesterday we crossed 2,000 backers of The Action PAC. Our next big goal is 5,000, then 10,000, then 20,000 by the end of this year.
The average monthly donor right now is giving $20.51. We’ve had donors give as much as $5,000 today and have had many just chip in $1 a month. Whatever you can give, we just need you on board, okay? And you can go right now to TheActionPAC.com to our temporary landing page. We had planned on launching in September, but between the bigotry of Trump and the refusal of our politicians to actually make real change, we decided we had to jump in early. So you can join us now at TheActionPAC.com, and once there, you can sign up to volunteer, donate, and follow us on social media.
We are about to build an energized, organized, well-planned, well-funded movement for change, but we need you on board!
Thank you all for making it all the way through this episode of The Breakdown!
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Take care everybody.
Produced by Willis Polk II
Additional Instrumentation by Christian “Idrys” Shannon, Lance “Lance Fury” Powlis & Markeith Black
Additional Engineering by Amond “AJ” Jackson for Salem Psalms Library
Additional Vocals by Garnett “Natti” Bush & Jason Coffey
Scratches by Kenny “DJ FlipFlop” Vanderberg