Another 200 Shootings Today

Gun pile

As I was researching for this post, I was struck by two peculiar facts; it’s not the number of people shot each day, I already assumed that number would be high. Nor was it the lack of change in response to the depressing events. The first was that it is the Centers for Disease Control, which has the most accurate statistics on the subject. The Bureau of Justice Statistics does not necessarily include suicides, because in most states, suicide is not considered a crime. Which leads me to my second interesting nugget, which is that people commit suicide with guns at a much higher rate than they kill others with a gun; 18,735 compared to 11,493 (2009). America has been so focused on politicizing the gun-control issue from both sides that it has paralyzed the process of having positive discussions.

Perhaps a better way to address the issue is to treat it as the CDC does, as a disease. I’m not saying that people who love and want to own guns are in some way ill, but approaching gun violence as a treatable condition will give people on both sides of the debate a point of reference to agree that something has to change. You may be skeptical of the disease connection, but take a moment to review the statistics compiled on Mother Jones’ Web site. Keep in mind the list does not include the latest gun-amok in Los Angeles’ LAX on November 1 or the deadly family dispute in Greenwood, S.C. the day before. One the other hand, you too may recognize the irony of referring to the rise of gun violence as an epidemic.

Violence in America has long been the subject of scrutiny and debate and one should not be so naïve as to believe that removing guns from the equation will be the cure-all that is needed. Taking away guns will not alone reduce the nearly 20,000 people who succeed in taking their own lives by gun each year. Nor will it provide help to the countless others who have had or will have similar urges. Very few would disagree with the rationale that a person who takes an assault rifle or similar killing machine, and executes as many people as they can until they are stopped by force, is mentally unstable. We like to think we treat mental instability in this country as a disease, but that’s a topic for another day, assuming we did however, and we believe we treat sufferers of mental illness compassionately, why is the easy access to guns removed from the discussion.

I am not, unless someone can convince me otherwise, one who blames violent video games or explicit movies for the violent tendencies of this society. The insanity existed for generations before television and movies. Perhaps there is a way to use the escapism of those products as a way to sate those primal urges, rather than using them to dehumanize the senses to the horrific realities of violence. I understand that visceral reaction some have to the mere mention of gun control; we live in a time where it seems we lose more and more freedoms each day and the thought of having the right to bear arms taken off the books is simply a bridge too far. However, let’s be honest, we are burying ourselves under a mountain of guns and ammo while the underlying reasons for the violence remains unchecked.

~ Richard


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