As a father and US citizen, it is beyond amazing how the leaders of our country can watch more kids and parents be killed by guns and yet do nothing about it. The polls say people would like something done about it, but leaders will not act as they are scared of reprisals from the leading gun selling advocate, the NRA, who brandishes the Second Amendment like it is a lethal weapon – they are right, it is lethal.
Just in the past few months, here is a sampling of headlines.
“Woman shot, killed by gun in her bra holster” – reported on 2/19/15 by NBC12 Newsroom
“Father accidentally kills child while cleaning his gun”– reported on 2/17/15 by AP News
“3-year-old boy shoots father, pregnant mother in New Mexico” – reported on 2/2/15 by CNN
“4-year-old accidentally shoots uncle with gun found on floor” – reported on 1/30/15 by Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel
“2-year-old kid shoots mother dead at Walmart” – reported on 1/30/15 by US News
“Girl 9, accidentally kills instructor while firing an Uzi” – reported on 8/27/14 by ABC News
While I am terribly saddened for the loss of life and the heartbreak people will carry for the rest of their lives over their role in the deaths or injuries, we should not view these incidents as just accidents. In my view, they ranged from accidents waiting to happen to homicidal negligence. The sad truth is I am no longer surprised by these headlines, as awful as they may be. They are more commonplace.
While there are many very responsible gun owners, we cannot train some gun owners enough. Yet, these are just the so-called accidental gun deaths. The most significant gun death cause in America, by far, is suicide. Homes with guns are three times more likely to experience suicide than homes without. All it takes is one impulsive act when someone is depressed and it is over. This is a key reason college therapists do not want guns on campuses, with the higher rates of depression than in general society. And, homicides are increased in America due to the presence of guns.
Let’s get back to those Second Amendment rights. The second amendment initially did not give everyone the right to bear arms limiting the right for the purposes of forming a militia. It has been subject to interpretation by Supreme Courts, but we should keep the original context in mind. But, one thing is for certain, it should not supersede our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness afforded us under the Constitution. I think most Americans understand this and want some action.
The US leads the civilized world in gun deaths significantly outnumbering the top 22 wealthiest nations combined. Our fondness for guns is a reason our police are more predisposed to act with violence in perceived threatening situations, than in other countries. Gun deaths are due to a multitude of reasons – lack of civil discourse, entertainment violence, poverty, drugs, mental health issues, etc. – but make no mistake they are also due to gun access. Guns don’t kill people; it is people with access to guns that kill people.
Per a 2013 Elon University poll, people of all political persuasions want elongated waiting periods and better background checks on all transactions. The police want bullets codified and registered to solve crimes. For me, these would help, but I cannot fathom a reason someone needs an Uzi or AK47. At a minimum, we need to limit the numbers of bullets that can be fired before reloading. That would save lives. Plus, we need to have as much recurring training as possible as this is serious stuff.
The NRA and its avid proponents say the answer to any question is we should arm everyone. That is inane. Just look at the above and see what happens when more guns are around people. We will only see more accidental and suicidal deaths. We will also have more homicides over small arguments. And, that serves no one’s purpose. It is time for our leaders to think like parents and not like pawns in a deadly game.