OUR PHILOSOPHY: THE DANGERS BEHIND GUNS

Guns and safety continue to be a controversial topic but one fact that is not up for debate is that guns are involved in many unnecessary accidental deaths and tragedies every single day. You don’t have to look far to find a story to support those facts. Sadly, almost everybody who has access to news either through local tv, social media, school or work hears stories almost daily (if not literally every day). The headlines all go something like this:

“Child in critical condition after accidental shooting”
“Father mistakes son for an intruder and shoots and kills him”
“Schools are under lockdown after an unidentified gunman entered the school”
“Student enters cafeteria firing multiple rounds”

The list could go on and on. A simple google search prior to beginning this article using the words “accidental gun shooting” resulted in many recent examples of these type of news headlines. In my google search the first one that appeared happened today and the title reads “Yet Another Toddler Shot and Killed His Mother”, the very next headline indicated that a 3 year old was dead after an accidental shooting in Paulding County. The next (reported just 5 hours ago) reported 1 dead in accidental shooting in Dallas.

On one particular site that tracks accidental shootings (primarily ones that have occurred in the last 72 hours) there are 25 returned story results that resulted in death or injury and those 25 are only the list of results that fit onto page 1 of the search query. The controversy ensues because those that are most intimately involved immediately following a tragedy, whether it be accidental or a deliberately thought out evil act have many emotions invested in those moments immediately after the news hits. Things are said while emotions are high that come out like “every gun is bad and no one should be able to carry a gun”. Sometimes it’s not even that extreme but that’s what the gun rights activists hear and thus they protest and often times with high emotion and strong opinion.

There is a lot of opinion but there are clear and hard facts- yes FACTS- that cannot be argued. According to the last published report on injury related deaths, 10.6% were related to firearms. In comparison, 10.7% were attributed to motor vehicle accidents and 15% attributed to poisoning. While some may argue that 10.7% is an improvement from the past, it’s still more than is necessary.

The point of this article is not whether I feel for or against someone’s right to “bear arms”. The point is to make people more aware of gun violence and danger regarding guns that could be prevented. Many of the stories featured describe a tragedy that is described as an “unthinkable tragedy” but an accident. Immediately after a father accidentally shoots and kills his teenage son is not the time to march in front of his house in protest with signs reading “killer” or “guns KILL people”. Yes, guns do kill people but many of those deaths are preventable by proper education and safety precautions. Safety precautions that seem so simplistic a child could understand them, however guns “accidentally” end up in the hands of a two year old child who in turn shoots and kills her mother by accident. The 2 year old child should never, under any circumstances, even have access to a gun,let alone pick it up and fire it. Under NO circumstance is it ever a plausible excuse to say that the parent fell asleep and the child was able to pick the gun up off a nearby table. That’s not an accident, that’s pure neglect and not only is it irresponsible it should come with severe implications. It’s not an “opinion” of an overly conservative person to say that the adult should be held responsible for that “accident”. It most certainly will never be the fault of a 2 year old child.

Statistics reported just last year revealed that on an average day in the good ole “USA” 36 Americans were killed by guns. That number does not include most deaths by suicide. The Gun Violence Archive (GVA) tracks deaths by firearms and in 2015 alone over 50,000 incidents of gun violence were reported. That number is inclusive of homicides, gang assaults, self-defense reported cases and accidental shootings. Sadly, due to restrictions in reporting tragedy regarding firearms, the nearly 20,000 Americans who take their own lives with the use of a firearm are not included. The statistics also do not include the number of people injured so severely by a firearm that their life is lived with unimaginable limitations for the rest of their lives. Many are left with brain injuries that leave them unable to function at a capacity that resembles anything similar to their life before the injury.

2013. Is the most recent report by the CDC reporting gun homicides. The statistics provided in the paragraphs earlier are provided by non-profit companies that track gun related deaths from more than 10,000 sources. But, according to the last public report by the CDC, 21,175 people committed suicide by use of a firearm. In contrast, 11,208 people died in homicides. The total number of people reported that died as a result of firearms in 2013 was almost 34,000 people. While disturbing as statistics may be, they are what they are. Studies have revealed that most people who attempt to commit suicide using a firearm almost always succeed while those who attempt using methods other than a firearm only succeed 6-7% of the time. There are only three ways that a firearm can take your life. They are simply put homicide, suicide or an accident. Another statistic included in the reported findings from the CDC is that states with more guns report higher numbers of accidental deaths resulting from firearms. Close to half of all fatalities by firearm are people under the age of 25.

Statistic after statistic could be included in this article but the main premise is simple. Firearms are dangerous. Firearm use does result in violent crimes. Those are facts. The fact wasn’t stated in a way that said “No one should have a gun” or “Guns are the cause of all violence in America”. One does not have to do extensive research to “dig up stories” on violence involving firearms. As I sat and wrote this article, my local news station ran a promo for tonight’s news that went something like this: “Tonight at 11 we will feature a segment that shows the surprising and shocking things that kids did when exposed to a firearm when they thought no one was watching”. If the news stations think that there is anything shocking or surprising about what they saw, then they didn’t do their journalist duty of proper research before the story. They went on to say that the results were so shocking that a local gun store is giving away FREE locks to people here locally. The subjects of the news story are kids. Nothing should be expected from a child’s behavior that appears like it involved sound logic or reasoning that went into their decision to pick up the gun and play “bad guy” with it or the fact that they turned the barrel towards themselves and looked at it in fascination. They are kids. Period. No “but if” or “if only”. This article is not about gun debate or about whether people should have legal rights to carry their gun wherever they please. It’s an article with documented facts, statistics and real life stories.

Guns are dangerous. Guns are violent. Responsibility and accountability are imperative to offer a brighter future to the next generation and the one after that.