Over the course of 2015, the total number of gun-related killings in Austria, Bermuda, Estonia, Hong Kong, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Slovenia came to 27. In the U.S., that number of gun deaths occurred on a single day: December 25th.  Another 63 individuals were injured.

That figure does not include suicides and attempted suicides, which for many reasons, seem to peak around the holidays.

The Christmas Day bloodbath started early when police in Augusta, Maine received a 911 call around 3:30 AM. When they arrived, they found a young couple who had been shot to death while seated in their vehicle. So far, police have no suspects nor any motive for the killings.

The murder spree continued in Franklin County, Ohio, where multiple homicides occurred, starting around 4 AM. The first killing eerily resembled the one that happened in Maine only two hours earlier. A couple, parents of a young child, were gunned down in what appeared to be a robbery. Less than an hour after that, another man was found in a vacant lot – with numerous gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital.

Later that morning, an elderly woman in San Leon, Texas, killed her husband with four shots to the stomach. According to the statement she made to police, her motive for the killing was “continuous marital issues and infidelities.”

Gun-related bloodshed continued into the evening, when the owner of a barber shop in Prichard, Alabama, was shot to death outside his barber shop. That victim was outspoken on his views against criminal activity in his community.

These are just a few of the highlights of Christmas Day in the U.S. – where those who drive automobiles are expected to pass tests, hold a license and carry insurance to cover any injury and/or property damage for which they may be responsible. This is not the case for gun owners. In many states, it’s easier to obtain a firearm than it is to get a license to drive. Ironically, the number of gun-related deaths is greater than that of vehicle-related fatalities in 21 states as well as the District of Columbia.

It shouldn’t be surprising. As a cause of deaths, automobile accidents have fallen significantly since the mid-1950s, largely due to stricter safety regulations requiring the use of more advanced safety technologies that include seat belts and airbags. At the same time, regulations and restrictions on gun ownership have gone by the wayside under pressure from the almighty National Rifle Association. The NRA’s hired puppets in Congress have gone out of their way to prohibit law enforcement from making public any information about criminal gun possession, passing legislation to shield gun makers from certain types of civil liability. At the same time, the right-wing propaganda machine continues to instill fear into the minds of weak-minded Americans, while convincing them that their “Second Amendment Rights” are at stake.

Today, the U.S. leads the world in the number of gun-related homicides. On the average, there were 36 shooting deaths every day of 2015. Christmas Day, when we should be celebrating peace, was not necessarily the high-water mark in this regard. But when non-fatal injuries and suicides are factored in, there were still more shooting casualties on that single day in the U.S. that there were all year in many other nations on the planet.

It’s a dubious honor – all the more dubious because the real reason is that lawmakers are too beholden to special interests such as the NRA as well as their zombies among the electorate who they’ve convinced to be afraid of everyone else.

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.