Gun violence in America is a public health issue and tragically little or nothing is being done to prevent the senseless deaths of so many of our citizens. According to Forbes contributor Rob Waters and citing the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “in the ten years from 2000 to 2009 more than 298,000 died from gunshots in the U.S., about 30,000 people a year. If you exclude natural causes of death and consider only deaths by injury, it is the second-leading cause of death over that time period; only car accidents (417,000) killed more people.”
While it is true that guns don’t cause violence, is it also true that easy access to guns turns violence deadly and increases the chances of lethal accidents. Look through the statistics compiled by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the numbers speak for themselves:
Two thirds of the 179,000 homicides committed during the 2000s made use of a firearm, usually a handgun.
Easy access to guns turns violence deadly and boosts the chances of lethal accidents. For example, if a gun is used during a domestic violence assault, there’s a 23-fold increased likelihood that the victim will die. Women who are victims of Domestic Violence are five-times more likely to be killed if abuser owns a firearm.
Having a gun facilitates suicide according to a California study, suicide by handgun is the leading cause of death in the first year after people buy a gun. However, many don’t wait that long. In the first week after purchase of a handgun, the suicide rate among firearms purchasers was 57-times as high as the adjusted rate in the general population. More than 75 percent of guns used in suicide attempts and accidental injuries of people under 20 were stored in the home of victim, a relative, or friend. Would all these people have committed suicide if a gun had not readily available” Some would have, of course, but the easier (and faster) it is to kill one’s self, the more likely a person is to do it. (Rob Waters; Forbes contributor, 7/24/2012)
Although, I’m unable to read the minds of our founders who have long been resting in their graves, I can still read their words and through historic context decipher what they meant when they wrote the 2nd Amendment: Militia and the Right to Bear Arms. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Of course we have a well regulated Militia with our Reserves and National Guard and we most certainly have people who keep and bear arms as shown by all the gun violence happening across our county where, currently, approximately 34 or more of our citizens are gunned down each day. Somehow, I don’t think this was our founders intent when their knowledge of arms at the time were single shot muzzle loaded rifles and pistols and furthermore, their idea for the right of the people to keep and bear arms was mainly to prevent governmental tyranny and to be able to fortify the Militia to fight against foreign invasion, not to be used to kill each other on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, today we have the powerful NRA and their well paid lobbyists preventing us from have meaningful discussion on ways to decrease gun violence in any way. This past election no serious politicians that I heard even brought gun violence up as a political issue. Of course, there were those who used the idea that the other side was going to restrict of take away “your guns.” My neighbor, who loves to hunt and is a good man, bought into this fallacy and was railing one day that Obama was trying to take his guns away and that he wasn’t going to be able to buy more ammunition. When I asked him how many guns he owned four years ago and how many he owned now, he did confess to me that he had purchased more guns to add to his collection and that he had been stockpiling ammunition -- just in case. At the end of the day, my sincere hope is that he doesn’t ever accidentally or on purpose shoot himself, his fiancé, my wife and I or any other innocent person in our lovely town.
More importantly, until we as a people have meaningful discussions on gun violence in this country and address this Public Health issue with common sense solutions to fix the problem, tragically, we will continue to bear witness to these senseless acts of violence that affect us one and all!