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Editor’s Note: Jill Filipovic is a journalist based in New York and author of the book “OK Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind.” Follow her on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely her own. View more opinion on CNN.

CNN  — 

On Tuesday, Americans celebrate the Fourth of July: We gather, we grill, we watch fireworks displays. And many of us worry that a day of revelry could easily turn deadly, given our country’s problem with mass shootings.

This has already been a bloody week. On Monday, three were killed and eight were wounded in a shooting in Fort Worth, Texas. In Philadelphia, five were killed and two children were injured in another shooting. Sunday was also bloody in Baltimore, when a shooting in the early morning hours at a block party left two dead and 28 wounded. We’re only halfway through the year, and according to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 341 mass shootings so far this year – nearly two every single day.

Jill Filipovic

We live in a nation where, as of 2021, an average of 133 people died from guns every day.

In the midst of this massive gun crisis, the Supreme Court has taken up a case challenging a law that bars people under domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms.

Should the court deem that the law violates the Second Amendment, it could exacerbate an already appalling problem: While mass public shootings are indeed a scourge, mass shootings that happen in private and target family members are a much bigger killer. One study found that nearly 60% of mass shootings between 2014 and 2019 were domestic-violence-related and killers in nearly 70% of mass shootings either had a history of domestic violence, or targeted a family member or former partner in the shooting.

This court has proven itself a bastion of right-wing ideology, including on guns. Last year, the court struck down a common-sense New York gun law and held that any state attempt to regulate guns must be “consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” In other words, if there wasn’t an analogous law when the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, the current day law may fail.

In 1791, women were essentially the property of their husbands and fathers and domestic violence wasn’t a crime. The modern military-style weapons often popular with gun enthusiasts today were not on the market.

As Ian Millhiser wrote in Vox, the court’s recent gun decisions mean that that “the fate of American guns laws is likely to come down to individual judges’ and justices’ arbitrary conclusions about which modern laws are sufficiently similar to laws from two or three centuries ago to justify the modern law’s continued existence.”

This is big trouble for the majority of Americans who want a country safer from gun violence.

The story of America is not “we gained independence from the British and then left things there.” It’s a story of unsteady and intermittent progress, but progress nonetheless. The Founders laid down a solid ideological foundation, declaring it self-evident that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Americans who were initially cut out of that promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – not to mention basic recognition as full, free, independent human beings entitled to equality under the law – demanded they be included.

While we are not a nation in which all are now free and equal, we are a freer and more equal nation than we’ve ever been – an achievement that comes from citizens loving their country by looking toward her future, not by staying stuck in a skewed narrative about a valorized past.

It’s increasingly clear that American gun violence will only decrease if more Americans decide they’ve had enough of all of the guns and demand the kind of reasonable gun regulations we see in just about every other wealthy, peaceful nation on earth (and, despite conservative claims, there is a vast body of research concluding unequivocally that the cause of America’s astronomical rate of gun violence is indeed all the guns).

Before we change, though – if we change – tens of thousands of Americans will almost surely lose their lives. Thousands more will be injured, or will witness the horror of gun violence, or will simply live with the pervasive anxiety that it could strike at any time.

This is no way to live. And it’s incredibly corrosive to a functional society. When we cannot come together in public – at a mall, at a movie theater, in school, at a Fourth of July celebration – without the simmering anxiety that deadly violence could erupt at any time, we become a nation that is less socially connected and less trusting.

When we see our highest government officials refusing to carry out the will of the American people when it comes to gun legislation, and when we see the highest courts in the land thwarting even small and reasonable efforts to put some limits on who can own guns, our trust in our institutions – already waning – may further decrease.

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But the story of America is a story of refusing to stay stuck in the past and a refusal to accept the status quo simply because it’s the way things have always been done. American revolutionaries didn’t accept that; neither did the many others who laid the foundations for America’s slow lurch toward equality and the other ideals laid out in the Declaration of Independence, a group of quintessentially American freedom fighters that includes abolitionists, feminists and civil rights activists.

As we celebrate American independence, we aren’t celebrating a single moment, but rather several centuries of work. In the century following 1776, after all, most people in America still did not enjoy equal protection of the law or the right to vote, let alone liberty, except for land-owning White men. Look around at your friends, your family, your neighbors and yourself: Chances are that most of the people you know wouldn’t have been fully free or equal even after the ratification of the Constitution, and certainly would not have been promised freedom or equality by American independence.

All of which is to say: Betterment is the outcome of tireless generational work. The work of feminists and civil rights advocates is not done. Neither is the work of keeping us all safer from endemic violence.

This week, as we celebrate our country’s past, we can also pause to imagine a better future – one where all people in this country are more equal, to be sure, and also one in which we can find peace inside our homes and outside of them, and can enjoy both the most mundane aspects of life and the most extraordinary ones without fear that we’ll be gunned down.