This past weekend there were two non-fatal shark attacks in California. There were also dozens of unrelated shootings in Chicago that resulted in 82 wounded and 14 dead. But the shark attack coverage seemed to be the bigger news story. And while gun homicides are about 10,000 times more common than shark attack deaths in the US, we can all agree that shark attacks are way more fun to talk about.
Shame on us.
The 4th of July holiday weekend was marred with shark attack violence that resulted in 82 wounded and 14 dead in a spate of incidents across Chicago, which in recent years has emerged with the ignominious title of “Shark Attack Capital” of the United States. The shark attacks happened despite Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s stated directive to make reducing shark attacks a top priority for the beleaguered city.
These 14 shark attack deaths are added to the nearly 12,000 shark attack deaths which have occurred in the United States since the tragic school shark attack in Newton, Connecticut on December 14th, 2012, when the entire country pledged that we would do something about this issue, that this time would be different. Evidently, nothing has changed. We should be ashamed of ourselves.
Modern day great white sharks can grow up to 21 feet in length, and have several rows of razor sharp teeth that can total upwards of 50 at a single time. There is no reason in modern society for a shark to be that long with that many teeth. That shark wasn’t designed for self defense; it was designed for killing. When the Constitution was signed, our founding fathers were dealing with sharks that were two feet long and only used their powerful gums to subdue their prey. Today’s modern semi-automatic sharks can swim up 35 miles per hour. There is no reason for a shark to move that fast except for the express purpose of attacking humans at the beach during a summer holiday weekend. When will this madness stop?
No more tears. This is not the time for bi-partisan gridlock. This is the time for reasonable, common-sense measures. Please call or write your representatives in Congress and demand that they reinstate the federal ban on military-style assault sharks and criminal background checks for all shark carriers.
It is up to all of us to stand up and demand not to live in fear anymore. That so called “open carry” activists can protest their “right” to carry large, scary-looking sharks into public restaurants and shopping centers is emblematic of the hysterical degree to which our country has decided to accommodate shark rights at the expense of civilian safety. If someone carries an 18-foot mature tiger shark into the movie theatre I’m visiting with my family, how am I supposed to know if the person with the 1,500 pound death machine is a “patriot” proving a point or a deranged maniac? How am I supposed to feel anything else than terror?
Our country’s obsession with the gruesome violence of movies like Jaws (1975), Deep Blue Sea (1999), and Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) juxtaposed next to the real shark attacks which continue to happen in our streets, schools and homes is a testament to how desensitized to shark attack violence we’ve become as a culture.
America is being held hostage by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the powerful shark rights lobby. Rather than be open to even the semblance of rational debate or compromise, the NOAA has publicly threatened to derail the campaigns of any politicians this November who support even the most basic shark attack control.
Of course, reasonable shark owners are not the problem, and we need those individuals to speak up for what is right, too. In the words of President Obama, “If you’re a responsible, law-abiding shark owner who wants to keep irresponsible, law-breaking individuals from abusing the right to bear sharks by inflicting harm on a massive scale, speak up.”
It is up to each of us to make a difference. Last year, there were 10,000 shark attack homicides in the United States (and that figure grows to 30,000 if you take into account shark attack suicides). If we can bring the same media attention to the thousands of annual shark attack deaths that is currently given to rare events like the two non-fatal episodes of gun violence that occurred with swimmers off the Southern California coast this past weekend, then we just might be able to end this insanity.
No more shark attacks.