War on firearm deaths in the U.S. | VailDaily.com

War on firearm deaths in the U.S.

Nick Fickling

The recent shootings in Arvada and Colorado Springs are just the latest in a long line of such incidents.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 177,057 firearm deaths between 1999 and 2004 at a rate of 10.3 (four homicides, six suicides and 0.3 other gun-related causes) deaths per 100,000 per year. That is 30,000 gun-related deaths a year, each year accounting for more than 10 times the number of deaths from Sept. 11.

That is deaths alone; the numbers of those injured are too numerous to fathom.

But what about international comparisons? Here are some figures from “The Global Gun Epidemic,” by Wendy Cukier and Victor Sidel (2006).

Now I could debate whether the availability of arms in the United States is the problem or the solution. That debate will go on ad nauseum between entrenched gun advocates and those against guns under any circumstance.

What I have to offer are some questions.

Why, with all these gun-related deaths, will nobody in government, from either party, do anything about it? After Columbine High there were headlines, statements of sorrow at the loss of life and how it has affected the lives of so many. There were promises of action to make sure Columbine never happened again and yet it has recurred some 36 times over with dozens killed and injured, and thousands mentally traumatized. A monument was built and funeral services performed with great ceremony. TV ratings rocketed as people tuned in to “rubberneck” at the victims, their families, and the whole gory spectacle. But essentially nothing has changed and the school shootings will continue.

Why is the National Rifle Association supporting ownership of pistols and automatic assault weapons? Surely it should change its name to The National Rifle, Pistol and Assault Weapons Association. Wouldn’t that be more honest?

Why is it that we tell the world how wonderful the U.S. Constitution is, including the right of Americans to bear arms, and yet see no hypocrisy in our preventing Iran, Korea and other countries from possessing weapons to “defend” themselves? Would we have more clout in spreading democracy if we were more believable?

Does the 2nd Amendment trump the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or is it the other way round?

Why is it that the U.S. leads the developed world in gun-related deaths? Is that contributing to the decline of the U.S. compared with the rest of the world?

Eight U.S. children die in murders, suicides and accidents involving guns each day. Was the greatest hope for the future of America the victim of one of those shootings?

How do the 30,000 shooting deaths a year affect the U.S. competitive edge in the world? Is the 2nd Amendment worth it?

How is it that since John F. Kennedy was assassinated, more Americans have died from gunshot wounds at home than died in all the wars of the 20th century?

If Osama Bin Laden killed almost 3,000 on Sept. 11 and President George Bush declared a war on terror then why, with 10 times that number killed in the U.S. by guns each year, doesn’t the president declare a war on firearm deaths?

Are all these deaths and injuries really an issue? If you think so, then presumably you also think something needs to change.

We teach our children to question and particularly to ask how and why something happens. We then expect them to find the answers and lead our civilization to yet greater heights.

Sadly, we seem incapable of doing what we expect them to be able to do.

Nick Fickling is retired from the British military and lives in the Vail Valley. E-mail him at fickling@vail.net or editor@vailtrail.com.

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