Entries in guns (3)



It is time for us [Americans] to take action to keep our children safe [and thus reduce the rate that our children die]. An opinion piece in the February 18, 2028 New York Times by David Leonhardt reports that the United States is now "the most dangerous of affluent nations for a child to be born into."  This reflects that in the United States we mourn the death of our children from guns but then do nothing to protect our children from future gunfire. The United States now has the highest number of children [up to age 19] dying per one million children [6,500] compared to other affluent countries with Canada having 5,200 children dying and Britain has 4,600 dying. The average of the 20 high income [affluent] countries is 3,800 children dying. So, why are we the worst?  Well, besides the number of children dying from guns, the other two areas that kill our children are vehicle crashes and infant mortality.  If we compare the deaths of our children to the average number for high income countries, this represents 21,000 excessive deaths per year. 

What are some things that we can do to save more of our children's lives?  We can make background checks universal, make waiting periods longer and tighten access to semiautomatic weapons. It would also help if we had far fewer guns , recognized that we don't require guns to support our self-esteem and believe that our precious children have the right to not die from guns.  In addition, to save more of our children's lives we can also enforce speed limits, seat belt use and no texting while driving [or talking on cell phones ]and ensure access to health care for everyone, especially our children.

So, are the lives of 21,000 children each year worth the hassle of background checks, a waiting period before you get a gun, it being more difficult to buy an assault rifle, having to follow safe driving behaviors and having to pay for everyone to have access to health care?

If you believe that our children's lives are worth this, then insist that your congressperson and senator take action now and don't let up on them until they do or until you have replaced them.



Well of course that is only a very small part of killings with guns in the world. It just gets a whole lot more attention from the media.  A recent killing rampage in California by Elliot Rodger has led to more calls for the involuntary comittment of the mentally ill as Elloit's recent and past behavior suggests that he was mentally ill. This is commented upon in an opinion piece in the June 3, 2014 NY Times by Joe Nocera.  Mr. Nocera does not believe that locking up the mentally ill who are agitated and yet not making specific threats to individuals, and who can function independently, is the answer. Mr. Nocera ends his opinion piece wondering if the focus should be on making it harder for anyone to get guns, not just the mentally ill. 

Well, that idea suffers from being too logical and effective in signifantly reducing gun related deaths. It requires that we as a country take responsibility for the suffering and loss that are insistence on the right to arm ourselves has caused. We are now moving toward defining our right to bear arms to include carrying concealed weapons on college campuses (according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website seven states have laws permitting this). I have blogged before about the problem of access to weapons and all the deaths, including children, related to this. As I've mentioned, "guns don't kill people, but people with guns do!"

Getting back to potentially violent people suffering from mental illnesses, I have two points to make. The first one is that Elliot Rodger's parents reported that Elliot was severely bullied as a child. I have blogged a couple of times about the damage that bullying can do and the deadly reactions that can occur, including suicide and homicide. My second point is that it might be time to take seriously general threats made online and in other settings. It seems prudent and reasonable to consider these threats a crime. This could have led to Elloit getting help.  Finally, people who are bullied will sometimes cope by bullying others. Another reason to work to reduce bullying and provide more help for those who are bullied and even for the bullies!



Recently there have been two more killings that have been justified by claims of self-defense as the shooters felt "threatened."  One threat apparently was popcorn being tossed at the shooter's face and the other based on loud music coming from a car with a number of young males in it.  Previously a man in Florida pursued a young man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and felt threatened because the hood was covering the person's head.  None of the people killed had weapons unless a box of popcorn is considered a weapon.  Does feeling threatened justify killing?  Aren't we supposed to be looking out for [caring for] other people? Are there other ways to deal with feeling threatened?  If guns don't kill people, it is people with guns that commit the vast majority of killings in the United States.  Other countries with fewer guns have many fewer deaths from guns.  

So what are we to do?  I have previously blogged about the importance of having reverence for all living things and the problem of having guns increasing significantly the risk of someone being killed.  Does the right to bear arms really mean the right to kill others because we feel threatened or does it really mean that the states have the right to have militias?  Does reverence for life only count if we don't feel threatened?  

My understanding of reverence for life is that our own lives are enhanced by caring and having respect for living things and that our lives are diminished when we do not treat living things with caring and respect.  Isn't it time that we in the United States committed ourselves to having reverence for the living and stop having reverence for guns?