Most people around my age—55—remember exactly where they were 35 years ago. It was the day musician John Lennon was murdered.
And with 35 years in the rearview mirror, the U.S. is still wrestling with the same tragic problem—mentally ill or ideologically extreme people with guns. But now such people have access to more powerful, military-style weapons with much bigger ammunition clips.
How many wake-up calls are needed?
Just months after Lennon was killed by a mentally unbalanced man with a gun, President Ronald Reagan and his aide James Brady were shot by another unbalanced man trying to impress actress Jodie Foster.
The shootings of American political leaders and celebrities haven't been enough to persuade Congress to pass serious gun control legislation. Even the killing of rooms full of grade-school children and college students hasn't done it.
There will always be mentally ill and ideologically extreme people who fantasize about carrying out violent acts. But must they be given such easy access to such lethal firearms?
The National Rifle Association for too long has been able to block sensible political action. Want to name a gun control advocate such as Dr. Vivek Murthy to be U.S. surgeon general? Put that on hold and force him to promise not to talk about gun control. What if physicians ask patients about gun safety at home where children are present? Pass a law prohibiting doctors from talking about it.
We need John Lennon around today to sing his song about giving peace a chance. The 35th anniversary of the former Beatle's death is a good day to reflect on how much Americans have not come together on this vital public health and safety issue.