I’m relinquishing my space today to my cousin the cardiologist. As he notes, it should be possible to legislate restrictions that will save lives without running afoul of the 2d Amendment. Unfortunately, in our current bipolar political environment, where every issue is painted in black and white –where complexity and shades of gray are “elitist notions” and the most innocuous regulations are omens of the coming apocalypse–the prospects aren’t bright.
FIREARM VIOLENCE IN THE UNITED STATES: A MEDICAL OPINION
Most people don’t realize that over 30,000 people are purposely shot to death each year in the U.S. Moreover, rates of firearm-related violent crimes continue to climb, having increased by 26% since 2008. To gain perspective on these numbers, firearm deaths have now reached a yearly rate that equals that of automobile fatalities. What we can do to stem such violence is urgent but hampered severely by the rabid supporters of the second amendment and, of course, the gun lobby. Some clarification recently has been shed on this problem by a study appearing in the prestigious medical journal, the AMA sponsored Archives of Internal Medicine. These authors explored the question whether more restrictive firearm laws in a given state are associated with fewer shooting deaths. To answer this question, using sophisticated statistical methods, they measured the association between the rate of shooting deaths in a state-by-state rating (divided into quarters) of strength of legislation designed to limit sale and use of firearms. Their results were very illuminating: Those states with the fewest firearm regulations, as exemplified by Utah and Louisiana (0-2 laws), suffered the highest rate of firearm fatalities, which included both homicides and suicides. The states with the strictest pattern of regulation, as exemplified by Hawaii and Massachusetts (9-24 laws) experienced the lowest fatality rates. Indiana fell into the second lowest category for regulation and, as expected, fell into the second highest incidence of firearm deaths.
These authors freely admitted that finding an association between two factors—gun laws and mortality—does not prove that these two are causally related. But it sure raises important thoughts about what we as a society can do about this problem. Further research is obviously needed, but it is quite likely that more restrictive gun laws can save lives.
More aggressive attempts to identify, treat and constrain the huge numbers of those who are mentally ill is an exercise doomed to failure. Widespread arming of teachers and/or police officers is equally ridiculous, especially since it would increase chances for erroneous shootings in the absence of any expected benefits.
With such limited options available, what are we left with? Although we need not scrap the second amendment, those who hold legislative power should seriously consider stronger laws restricting guns, while, at the same time, sponsoring and performing more comprehensive research on this urgent problem. If we value life, we cannot afford to wait!
6 thoughts on “And Now a Word from the Doctor”
Gun violence is down one-third since 20 years ago, according to the DOJ.
90% of gun violence stems from the drug trade. Legalizing drugs takes the money out of it, which eliminates the need for drug-related violence.
Instead of siding with freedom, your cousin pushes for more fascism.
More fascism than we have now? So he should have sided with socialism and freedom?
Not that I’m disputing your 90% drug trade figure, I would like to know where that number comes from. We do know that those folks use guns because they are accessible, and that Chicago street gangs get a sizeable number–about 40%–from Indiana. Not because our guns are better, but because it’s easier to get them here. Furthermore, we also know (U. of California, Kposowa) that states with the highest rates of gun ownership and political conservatism have higher rates of gun suicide than states with lower gun ownership and which are less conservative. While I just threw in the “conservative” bit, that’s totally true. The issue is accessibility. People use firearms where there are more firearms. And, by the way, the people who have the highest rates of suicides with firearms are white and middle aged. That rate (22/100,000) is just about the same as our abortion rate (23/100,000), which may carry some irony with it. Gotta think about that a while.
“Indiana fell into the second lowest category for regulation and, as expected, fell into the second highest incidence of firearm deaths.”
“More aggressive attempts to identify, treat and constrain the huge numbers of those who are mentally ill is an exercise doomed to failure. Widespread arming of teachers and/or police officers is equally ridiculous, especially since it would increase chances for erroneous shootings in the absence of any expected benefits.”
I copied and pasted these sections of the doctor’s article because these comments go to the heart of the matter. I have had deep concerns regarding those “erroneous shootings” if we put guns in schools due to dealing with groups of people of all ages who cannot be trained not to panic when a gun is aimed at them…no matter how well trained Pence’s “resource officers” are. Assault weapons should never have been placed on the open market; they are geared toward military and public safety officers use, not for hunting or personal protection. Background check standards to purchase hand guns were lowered in Indiana years ago and there were none on long guns. Indiana being in the lowest category for regulations and the highest category for firearms deaths comes as no surprise. Why is Congress fighting so hard to allow this high death rate to continue unabated? $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ is the only possible answer, not protecting people’s 2nd Amendment rights. Looking at their recent record, that seems to be the only Amendment they are protecting.
JoAnn, an excellent point. It’s pretty clear that the principle is money and fear of the some of the NRA types. We also know that Conservatives are no longer conservative. People who used to be “wingnuts” are now the “Conservatives”. There were, at one time, some thoughtful and highly respective conservative legislators (e.g., Lugar) who were primaried out of the process by reactionaries who stand for a kind of knee-jerk ideological demagoguery. There is no sudden research to show that an assault weapons ban led to thousands of deaths, so what would explain why such a bill was passed in the early 90’s but now virtually uncontroversial legislation can’t find a home? Coats isn’t listening to the public, along with some of out other stunted congressmen, and it appears that members of congress don’t really care who dies through their intransigence. When good sense can’t find a home, follow the money. After all, I’m sure that even the wingnuts don’t believe all the stuff that comes out of their mouths. I’ll bet, after saying some of the stuff they say, the first thought from some of them is, “Did I actually say that?” Prostitution comes in a number of forms, and it’s not all victimless.
When abortion and health care for women are available, crime rates will lower 20 yrs later because unwanted children are not born in poverty. Educating women also lowers the numbers in poverty and crime will go down. Removing those two very important factors for women which is what the tea baggers in Indiana want to do will become “you reap what you sow.”
We’re already living in a republican utopia.
Speaking of abortion, the usual conflict is between pro-choice and “pro-life”, but the Guttmacher Institute data tell us some significant information about abortion prevalence in the world. In the U.S., it’s around 23/100,000; in South American countries where abortion is prohibited, 30 to 50 per 100K; in the former Communist block countries where abortions are available but little family planning, 40 to 80 per 100K. In Belgium and Netherlands, where abortion is readily available but intensive family planning and birth control is offered the abortion rate is 4 per 100K. Even in 3rd world countries, such as Tunesia, with intensive family planning, abortion is 7 per 100K. This tells us that if people do not want abortion, never go the prohibition route because prohibition does not work, and poor family planning yields a very high abortion rate. With extensive family planning and birth control services safe abortions can become almost nonexistent, even when readily available. On the other hand, we can always make an ideological fight where most of are unhappy and there are no winners.
You are correct, of course. Education, as part of intensive family planning, is very effective.
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