Every year Americans suffer about 4 million gun injuries and over 30,000 deaths—far more than the toll in all the other industrial nations. Why does this happen? How can we fix it?
GUN VIOLENCE: PUBLIC HEALTH MENACE
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Nobody really knows. That’s because the NRA has used its power over Congress to stop all government research on gun violence since 1996. In December, 2012, after the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT, President Obama instructed the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to resume its research program, but the NRA waved its magic wand again, and Congress cut the funding.
HOW USA DIFFERS FROM OTHER INDUSTRIALIZED NATIONS
Gun ownership per 100 citizens: USA: 88.8; Switzerland: 45; France: 31.2; Canada: 30.8; Germany: 30.3; Australia: 15.
Yearly firearm homicides per 100,000: USA: over 10,000; Canada: less than 200; Germany, Italy, France: less than 150; Japan: under 50.
Among the industrialized nations, the USA has, by far, the highest rate of citizen gun ownership (about 300 million, or one for each person) and a death rate to match. Every year 6 times more people are killed by guns in the USA than in Canada and 30 times more than in Australia.
CONGRESS VOTES TO SELL GUNS TO MENTALLY ILL PATIENTS
In February, 2017, Congress voted to rescind the law that prevented 75,000 mentally ill Americans from buying guns. These potential gun owners are on disability support, because they suffer from schizophrenia and other judgment-altering diseases that prevent them from being able to even take care of themselves without help—now imagine them with guns.
WHO DIES FROM GUNFIRE
• On average, more than 30 Americans are killed by gunfire every day.
• 1/2 the victims are between 18 and 35 years old.
• 1/3 of them are under the age of 20.
• As a result, guns are the second leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year-olds.
• Guns are the primary cause of death among African-Americans of 15 to 24.
FINANCIAL COSTS OF GUN VIOLENCE
• SOCIAL COSTS (aside from those arising from death) include the costs of the criminal justice system and of security precautions,
• MEDICAL LIFETIME COST TOTALS for gunshot victim injuries: $2.3 billion.
• TAXPAYERS SHARE of lifetime medical costs for gunshot injuries: $1.1 billion.
HOW WE CAN FIX IT
We must begin by taking control of gunfire violence away from the NRA and handing it back to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention so that knowledge gained through research can help us better deal with this frightening public health issue.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
• nytimes.com - Basis and source references for article
• heedinggodscall.org - Gun violence data; references and sources
• nytimes.com - 2017 Congressional decision allowing mentally ill people to buy guns
• washingtonpost.com - Why no research on gun violence is done by the CDC