The challenges of speaking out against mass shootings

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Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about our collective impotence to do anything about mass shootings and gun violence. I committed to write to national leaders in government, business, faith communities and nonprofits to request a root cause analysis and a commitment to end this uniquely American craziness. In the past two weeks, I have learned a little about the many efforts around the country which are inspiring and encouraging. And I have come to appreciate how challenging it is to figure out to whom to write and then, who might lead a deeper look at mass shootings and gun violence.

This week’s post is a progress report and request for help from readers on what to do next. Like most of you, I don’t have unlimited time to devote to a new cause. Despite being retired from full-time work, I find plenty to keep me engaged. I appreciate there is no quick fix to most complex problems. While tempted to just accept and say there is nothing to do, I am haunted by the words of Micah in the Old Testament: “Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly.” Ignoring mass shootings and violence feels like another form of ignoring racism.  We ignore it at our peril just as we are paying for ignoring global warming. We each decide what is ours to do to advance justice and then act.

In looking at why mass shootings and gun violence seem so threatening to me, I realized that the out-of-control violence threatens my personal safety and the lives of those I love. Psychologist Abraham Maslow placed personal safety at the foundation of his theory and process toward self-actualization.  While the world of psychology may have evolved beyond Maslow’s approach, his attention to safety remains compelling.

What follows is the letter I plan to send to President Biden ([email protected])  on August 3rd. I will also send a similar letter to leaders of my faith community – Archbishop Wilton Cardinal Gregory ([email protected]), Archbishop Timothy Broglio ([email protected])  and Archbishop William Lori ([email protected]) who are the current leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. I will also write to leading organizations working on these issues to inquire if there is a coalition working on root cause analysis.  Are they developing specific funding and policy priorities based on such analysis? There are a number of local efforts, some of which are now national including Sandy Hook Promise Foundation and the Brady Center to End Gun Violence.

I invite readers to use the comment feature of this post to add suggestions of ways to reach leaders who can move us out of impotence into action through data-driven solutions. Please let us know to whom you are reaching out.

Dear President Biden,

I am writing to you as a fellow citizen with one request: take meaningful action now to end mass shootings and gun violence in America. We have all seen way too many killings. We have never as a nation shown such impotence in the face of a wholesale attack on our security. Everyone lives in fear. Will I be gunned down at the mall, a swimming pool or Church? Will someone I love be gunned down?  Numbers keep growing and our collective response never gets beyond being sad and appalled.

We have and can do better. We are a smart, industrious and creative people. Our institutions have worked together for change before. It is way past time to invoke our history of collaboration and commit to getting at the root causes of mass shootings and gun violence and addressing them. If we don’t take action, quality of life in all our communities will continue to decline and our freedoms diminish.  

I am asking you to convene leaders of every entity that can help understand and plan for the end of mass shootings and gun violence. That includes elected officials, mental health organizations, advocates for and against gun control, faith leaders, school leaders, private sector leaders, think tank and research leaders – anyone whose voice will help America do a successful root cause analysis of mass shootings and advocate for the required changes.

I am sending a similar communication to some leaders I believe ought to be involved. Please ask every American to join you, and appoint on Labor Day, 2023 a Presidential Task Force to end Mass Shootings. Their goals would be:

1) To review by December 20, 2023, what is already known and not known about the root causes of mass shootings, delineate the actions needed to end this tragedy and submit a first report to you with recommendations for the 2024 State of the Union;

2) To ask every 2024 Presidential candidate to join you in endorsing the work of this Commission and to commit to continuing the investigation of root causes and the commitments of resources and policy changes to end it;

3) To commit to report to the American people every July 4 and in every State of the Union address beginning in 2024 until our mass shooting and gun violence epidemic is ended, as defined by the root cause review and the Commission. 

Such a Commission will develop its ideas and timeline. The point here is that our nation can’t tolerate an endless study and inaction any longer. Let’s all work together to understand as best we can the root causes of mass shootings and commit to following that road wherever it goes until mass shootings are ended in America.

I am sharing this note with everyone I know and asking them to share it with everyone they know. With your leadership, our nation can come together to dramatically reduce the gun violence that plagues us.

Thanks for your leadership and consideration.

Tom Adams, Concerned Citizen of Greenbelt, MD, USA


  1. Stephanie McGuire

    Thank you, Tom. I was able to forward your letter to President Biden to my Connecticut Senators and my Rep. John Larsen. I encouraged them to consider your suggestions and to carry encouragement to the President for consideration as well. Thankfully our state congressional delegation is a strong voice for meaningful gun control and our safety from gun violence. Senator Chris Murphy is always my first thought when thinking of a US legislator who works tirelessly to that end, with Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s full support. Thank you for initiating this effort.

    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Steph for taking this action. I find it easy to put this craziness out of mind and only rmember when the next incident occurs. Sadly that will be this week most likely. Thanks for reaching otu and advocating for change. Peace, Tom