Firearm Violence: Thinking About the Butcher’s Bill

We’re now one-sixth of the way through 2014.

Through those first two months, there have been 6,381 incidents of firearm violence in the United States, resulting in 1,646 deaths and 2,726 injuries. If we straight line those appalling numbers out for the balance of the year, we can project 9,876 firearm deaths and 16,356 firearm injuries.

A Tiny Part of the Butcher's Bill

A Tiny Part of the Butcher’s Bill

The terrorist attacks on on the New York Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 resulted in 2,996 deaths. More than 6,000 were injured. Firearms cause cause death and injury at the rate of about three (3) September 11s each year.

In response to 9/11, Americans gave up many of their constitutional protections, including limits on speech, limits on warrantless searches, right to counsel, and, in the case of American citizens accused of being terrorists abroad, the right to trial by jury before execution. Americans submit to highly intrusive, warrantless searches each time we fly on a jet. We make those sacrifices of our freedoms – not without disagreement, but we make them – because we value human life and safety are are willing to compromise the constitutional protections to safeguard human life.

In response to the horrific violence from firearms, can someone identify what constitutional rights we have moderated, what compromises have been made, to address a problem that is three times worse than 9/11? The First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments all speak in near absolute terms, yet we have accommodated overriding public concerns. Why is the Second Amendment any different?

Three times worse than 9/11. Every year. More than a thousand of them children. How can we, as a society, accept this? Is this what we mean by “exceptional”?

Back in the late 1960s, Black Panther H. Rap Brown was pilloried for saying, “Violence is as American as cherry pie.” Brown is a pretty despicable human being, but, on the evidence, he was right.

Is that what we want?