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Following the stunning insurrection at the nation's Capitol, the phrase "this is not who we are" was offered by some, to soothe and help begin a process of healing.

Perhaps more helpful, and certainly more intrepid, were declarations by those leaders and scholars who insisted that, indeed this is who we are, or at least it is undeniably part of who we are. For despite the many wonderful and praiseworthy accomplishments of our great nation, the ghosts of America's past and present are there to remind us that to a greater or lesser degree, we have always been a more violent country than many of us would care to recognize.

As if right on cue, the first week of February is Gun Violence Survivors Week. It has been established to underscore that by this point on the calendar, shooting deaths in the United States consistently surpass the totals suffered in other high income countries for the entire year. Gun violence in America is so severe, that since 1968 we have killed more persons with firearms on our city streets, than have died in all the wars we have ever fought (Center For American Progress). And among these peer nations, 83.7% of all firearm deaths occur here in the U.S. (American Journal of Health). These statistics are astounding, and no sensible person wants to live like this, when there are common sense solutions to be had, that also respect our Second Amendment rights.

And as we recognize "who we are," and think about the country we are bequeathing to our children, shouldn't we embrace the chance of a new beginning, and ask who we want to be? 

John Barden 

Prior Lake