Editorial: We don't have to live like this. Campaign against gun violence must begin with guns.

We don't have to live like this.

We go out in a crowd, and now, we look around, check for backpacks and suspicious characters, devise escape plans in case we need them.

We send our kids to school, and now, we say a prayer that they'll return home safe, that their school will be spared; we give our kids tips to protect themselves in case of trouble; we emphasize to the older ones that if there ever was an assault, we'd need them to text once it's over to reassure us they are safe.

We go to work, and now, we carry security badges that enable us to pass through guards and locked doors, demand IDs of visitors we used to welcome, take part in active-shooter drills.

We don't have to live like this.

But it's not just mass shootings provoked by a hateful ideology or in so many cases, by nothing identifiable, just by a mystifying sociopathic anger directed blindly and narcisstically.

It's everyday life in some communities and neighborhoods. People can't walk down the street, sit in a car, congregate in a park without contending with the uneasy chance of bloodshed.

Increasingly, the boundaries of these communities and neighborhoods grow wider and longer, and the victims grow more random.

Wrong place, wrong time; young, old. Got into an argument. Or just happened to be passing by. This bloodshed could happen to anyone at almost anytime in almost any place.

We don't have to live like this.

So many tragedies. So many lost and broken lives. So many innocents taken. So many endless tears and heartaches for those who grieve.

Add up all the wasted years, the promised life unfairly taken, the exhilarating breaths never taken.

Even as we mourn the dead, the dead are not the only victims.

Life in America has changed. We live now with a sense of fear and anxiety. It may not consume us. But it always lives with us.

We went to war with Al-Qaeda and with ISIS to protect us from living like this. But the enemy here is not Al-Qaeda or ISIS or foreign terrorists.

The enemy here is us.

This bloodshed is — with few exceptions — an American phenomenon.

We don't have to live like this.

Last year, 39,773 people lost their lives to gun violence in the United States. In other words, about 109 people a day. That doesn't count all the survivors of gun violence who are disabled, traumatized, many for the rest of their lives.

We accept that the causes of mass shootings and gun violence are complex and that the solutions are myriad too.

There are no simple answers. We accept that a national campaign against this violence needs to include many measures.

But understand this: Other Western countries have bigotry and hatreds, political tensions, poverty, alienation, mental health problems, media excess, glorification of violence, unrestricted internet and social media.

None come close to America's rate of mass murder. Few approach America's overall murder rate.

Yes, a national campaign against this violence must include many measures. But any serious campaign against gun violence must begin with guns.

We don't have to live like this.

We don't have to die like this.

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