Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Adding Up The Concerns Of Americans

While millions of Americans are gearing up this week for a major television event, we highly doubt most of them are talking about the State of the Union address, like the political junkies and wonks we know.

As evidenced by the latest Pew Poll, we know that the State of the Union address - the SOTU -  isn't exactly the most important thing on the minds of most Americans right now. In fact, thanks to the push for more data-driven analysis in the media from people like Nate Silver and Ezra Klein, media organizations are doing far more polling today than they once did, though some are less ethical than others.

We only wished that media organizations paid more attention to what that polling data says.

If you looked at the news media for this first month of 2014, you'd see a great deal of stories about the scandals of major Republican politicians - and those are somewhat important stories. You'd also see an enormous and growing number of stories about another not-unimportant subject, the safety concerns surrounding athletes and fans at the Sochi Olympics in Russia. You'd also likely see more than a few stories about jobs & income inequality, a topic that - according to that same Pew Poll - is on the top of most American's minds today.

What you likely haven't seen too much of - or if you did, you just ignored it - is a topic President Obama addressed in his SOTU speech last year. Sadly, like so many other topics, Congress simply let the subject bleed to death last year.

The subject, of course, is the continuing flood of senseless gun violence and deaths in America.

From Wakefield Elementary and Purdue University, to Liberty Tech High School, there's been an average of one school shooting every two days so far this year. If one happens again today, that macabre statistic will continue. If you add in other mass shootings, like the multiple deaths at the mall in Maryland last weekend, the number of mass shooting events in America has tripled in just the last four years.

As we've referenced many times since we first published it, there are five major components to gun violence, including gun safety laws, economic inequality, corrupt political financing, media ethics, and mental health care. As we noted earlier today, data-driven analysis is making a postive change in journalism, and Obamacare is making significant strides in making mental health care available. We sincerely hope that in his adress tonight, President Obama will make a very agressive push to tackle jobs, inequality, & the economy, as well as tackle our nation's corrupt political financing this next year. As another legitimate poll from ABC & the Washington Post proved this week, Americans are well aware that Congress - especially the Republicans in Congress - can't be trusted to do much of anything.

The one part of solving our nation's gun violence problem, then, that Americans and our government still haven't really touched upon is gun safety. As evidenced by the shooting at the mall in Baltimore this past weekend, performing ultra-simplified partial background checks on some of the guns and some of the people, some of the time simply won't work. We're also well aware universal background checks won't prevent every act of gun violence. As backed up by the statistics from the Bureau of Justice, an average of 230,000 guns are stolen from law-abiding gun owners in America every year.

That said, unlike the fears surrounding the Sochi Olympics that so many media organizations are desperately clinging to, gun safety legislation is something Americans and their government can actually do something about, if we want to enough. Further, as the Pew poll confirms, defending America from terrorism - including domestic terrorism - is one of the most important concerns American citizens have today.

That Congress refuses to tackle a problem so important to so many Americans, and would rather let the problem lay there, simply doesn't add up to us.