Another seven people have died because someone who is emotionally unbalanced opened fire in a public place, in this case a place of worship.
Is it time yet to talk about gun violence as a public health issue and to try and figure out how we deal with this?
I know it’s a complicated issue, but gunfire is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States, and more than half of all suicides are by gunshot.
Many of the victims of gunshot wounds are children who are in the wrong place at the wrong time or are playing with someone’s loaded gun.
Many of the gun deaths in the United States would be preventable if we could just agree to a few reasonable restrictions on gun manufacture and sales. But the NRA and gun manufacturers have a whole lot of lobbying money and legislators fear their power.
I am NOT talking about taking away everyone’s guns, I promise.
We have nearly 10,000 deaths from gunshot wounds in the United States every year, and according to the National Institutes of Health’s Public Health Reports, there are no reliable statistics on non-fatal gun injuries. No other country not at war even comes close.
Our country has become a battleground because of our refusal to have a sensible conversation about guns. When do we stop being hysterical about Second Amendment rights and start to worry about the rights of the rest of us not being shot because we’re in the range of a disturbed person? When do we think about the safety of people in churches, in malls, offices, even in their own homes?
We can reduce the number of innocent people who are killed each year. We can limit access to people with a history of violence or with psychiatric illnesses, we can enforce the laws we have concerning background checks and waiting periods. We can close gun show loopholes and take assault weapons off the market. No one needs an assault rifle — you can’t even eat an animal killed with one, for crying out loud. Assault rifles are meant for one thing: to kill people quickly and in large quantities. I don’t think the Founding Fathers intended each of us to keep an arsenal in our homes.
I’m not against responsible gun ownership. I’ve gone target shooting and enjoyed it, although I probably would enjoy a BB gun as much as I enjoyed shooting a hunting rifle or a handgun. I’m pretty sure I could stop an intruder with a couple of well-placed BBs — if I had the presence of mind to shoot straight, which I’m not at all certain I would.
Gun violence has become a very real public health issue. We need to put on our grown-up underpants and talk about it seriously instead of allowing the NRA and gun manufacturers to own the conversation. This is about our lives and our public safety in our schools, theaters, churches and on our streets.