And, yet we choose not to act

It has been a few months since my last post on gun deaths in America. Since that time, we have seen the following:

several more school shootings,

– several more hostage situations unrelated to schools that ended in death,

– many more accidental deaths of young children,

– several more law enforcement officers who were killed,

– several law enforcement officers who used their weapons to kill,

– many more homicides, and, of course,

– even more suicides, by far, the number one reason for gun deaths in America.

And, yet we choose not to act. Our leaders choose to let the ownership of guns dwarf the discussion, when it need not. Our leaders choose to be afraid of the National Rifle Association (NRA) who threatens legislators out of reasonable debate which would interfere with the revenue stream of guns and ammunition.

We are number one, by far, in gun deaths in the civilized world. We have 87% of all gun deaths among the top 23 wealthiest countries. Also, violent crime is up in states that have looser gun laws. And, then there are suicides which cause almost two-thirds of the gun deaths. In the top ten states for gun deaths, suicide is the number one reason in nine of them, with the probability of suicide 3x larger in a house with a gun.

In the debate, the right to own a gun is not being questioned by most people, although the Second Amendment has been expanded from what it meant when written. Per surveys, Americans are supportive of tighter background checks and elongated waiting periods, including Republican voters. Many are supportive of a restriction on the type of weaponry that is sold to the public.

And, yet we choose not to act. To be honest, this is extremely poor stewardship in our leaders. The sad truth, from a federal legislative standpoint, nothing good will happen. In North Carolina, when the GOP took over the General Assembly, they did the following: allowed concealed weapons to be carried into bars and on playgrounds and allowed weapons to be contained in the trunk of the car on college campuses.

These changes were pushed by ALEC, a conservative legislation engine. These changes are directly opposite of the kinds of action needed. Guns, testosterone and alcohol do not mix very well. Guns and children on playground do not mix very well. Guns on college campuses, which have a higher degree of depression than general society (just ask how busy the counselors offices are on campus) do not mix very well.

On the good side, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the new Surgeon General has rightfully spoken against lax gun control as a threat to health, which is a position supported by the Journal of Acute Care and Trauma and other medical journals and groups.* On the good side, several parents of the Sandy Hook shooting are suing the gun maker and gun seller based on the premise a Bushmaster assault weapon should not be sold to non-military people.

Folks, we are well past time to act. The NRA does not represent most gun owners, but they cause fear in elected officials as they can mobilize a vocal grass-roots group almost anywhere. The vote to pass a heavily endorsed Surgeon General nominee this weekend was 51 to 43, and the NRA has placed all 51 Senators in their cross hairs, metaphorically speaking.

Personally, I would be concerned with the conflict of interest of the 43 Senators (Republicans and some Democrats) who voted no, as a doctor who says that guns kill people and we should govern them better, would seem to be a sane choice for the position. This is especially true with the resounding number of physicians who support his candidacy.

And, yet this new Congress will likely not act to tighten gun control laws. If they do act, they may follow the lead of ALEC, which has been shown to be more expansive of gun ownership rights. On the good side, maybe others might act like parents and do something about gun restrictions that will be a step in reducing gun deaths. Someone needs to act.