Let’s ease back into this Childish Man blog with something kind and supple. How about GUNS. (I intend to avoid the tired Second Amendment vs. Gun Violence discussion and hope your comments will do the same.)
A few weeks ago I began looking for a movement, an effort, something to which I could dedicate my energy and help “make the world a better place” not only for myself but especially for my kids. Nothing gets me emotionally bothered quite like framing an otherwise out-of-mind issue in a way that seems to threaten children. “Is your attic infested with Brown Recluse spiders? Your kids may be in danger!” Next thing I know I’m climbing up there with a flamethrower.
So my mind listed for me some choices that included collecting belly button lint, squirrel taxidermy, sous-vide cooking (sous-vide from the French meaning “eat raw food out of a Ziploc”), and gun control. I see now that this was a set-up from the beginning.
At this point I had little more than an opinion that guns are basically dangerous. Clearly I needed to be more self-righteous before stroking a check to the Brady Campaign, marching a downtown street with a painted placard, or yelling obscenities from the balcony of a legislative chamber of my choosing.
As I often do, I began my research with some YouTube demagoguery. I watched videos of NRA hit man Wayne LaPierre. And then some tear-jerking clips of moms talking about their gun-murdered children. After a day shifting between rage and uncontrollable sobbing, followed by a few hours of bad whiskey sleep, it was time to sober up with some concrete numbers.
Before I continue, I must admit to being under a self-imposed news blackout for most of my SAHD (stay-at-home dad) days. With my battering ram of an 8-year old son who needs constant attention and a 5-year old daughter that is frequently in or recovering from yet another surgery (something I will get to in future posts), I don’t feel like spending my remaining time on news from Crimea or even from a few miles away.
Keeping in mind my blissful ignorance about gun statistics, and my general awareness of the emotional sensitivity that dominates the gun issue – the sadness of gun control advocates, the Obama-fueled paranoia of gun show retailers, and the mutual contempt that both sides seem to have for each other – I expected the statistics would blow away the competition in a manner of speaking. Or at the very least that gun death numbers, when compared to other causes of death in children, and the relative sizes of the associated campaigns to save lives in those areas, would be fairly equal. To my surprise, they aren’t even close.
I’m not going into the numbers because, unfortunately, it isn’t terribly interesting. I will let you visit the CDC WISQARS database and search the numbers on your own (and see the dreadfully formatted summary table below. Sorry. Click on it for a larger image). It is my conclusion, and perhaps it should’ve been all along had I cared to look, that if I am truly concerned about the safety of my kids I should be far and away more concerned about car safety, suffocation, fires, and drowning than about guns. Mind you, I’m not suggesting that any parent worry about or fear cars let alone anything else, rather that a healthy concern represent the risk. Unfortunately I don’t see passionate pleas from a Million Moms nor dollars flowing through lobbyists and political campaigns concerning the kids who die from burns or from drowning, things that kill children in greater numbers than all circumstances involving guns combined – intentional, unintentional, or suicide.
For the record, I don’t like guns. I don’t own any. And I don’t want any. In my life and in my community, no matter how often gun rights advocates tell me otherwise, they are unnecessary. I feel sorry for the victims of gun violence and their parents, families, and friends. But I also feel sorry for people who live in a shadow of fear of their fellow man, a shadow so dark that they spend hundreds if not thousands of their dollars on weapons, and even more lobbying for expanded “freedoms” to take guns into more places, like churches, bars, and airports. The fear conjured by both sides is, to me, unjustified.
I have recently become a fan of Dr. Aaron Carroll, a pediatrician and health policy researcher at Indiana University School of Medicine. He summarizes what I said beautifully, though it only touches briefly on violence, and I recommend at the very least that you see the video below about risks and our fears about them. In fact, I recommend that you subscribe to his HealthCare Triage videos as well as to his articles on the WordPress blog (www.theincidentaleconomist.com). I’ve found some great stuff here to help me temper my little crusades about washing hands (anti-bacterial soap) and even drinking milk.
Thanks for reading!