The Independent reported Thursday that the United States lost at least 86 teenagers to gun violence since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida -- that averages to about 1.5 American boys and girls per day.
And the number underscores the fact that America’s gun violence problem goes well beyond the headline-making school and other mass shootings that remind the country’s citizens of the problem’s existence.
Most deaths from firearms will not make national or state news, and sometimes they don’t even register at the local level.
But it is this everyday gun violence that is most likely to touch Americans’ lives; that left 86 coffins where young people with potentially bright futures once stood; and that demands a response from American leadership.
“There will be no national headlines, but we lost another teenager here last night,” South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg tweeted on February 18, hours after the shooting death of Daekwon Tobar, a 17-year-old, who was shot on the way home from the store with his grandmother, and who friends and family later described as a quiet boy just learning “how to be able to look a person in the eye. How to fill out a resume and a cover letter.”
“Locally we're doing everything we can think of to stop gun violence. What will state and national leaders do to help?” Mr Buttigieg’s tweet continued.
Some state leaders have heard the call to action from the Parkland students and others demanding changes to U.S. gun laws -- even in states where it is least expected.
In Florida — a state known for lax gun restrictions — politicians defied the NRA to pass rare gun control and school safety bill in the state, allocating $400 million for school security.
In Vermont, a state with virtually no gun laws, politicians pushed through a bill to raise the age to buy guns, implement mandatory background checks on private gun sales, and ban large capacity magazines.
New York, which is already known for having some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, passed a law that would allow law enforcement to take guns from people convicted of domestic violence.
But so far, the Trump administration has been hesitant to step too far at the federal level.
While President Donald Trump invited student survivors of that massacre to the White House for a listening session, and later appeared interested in pushing Congress to consider a host of issues including raising the age limit to buy guns, he later bowed to pressures from America’s gun lobby — including the National Rifle Association (NRA) — and settled on instructing his Justice Department to find a way to ban bump stocks that allow users to fire semi-automatic weapons at near-automatic rates.
In the meantime, America’s teenagers are dying.