Since WC graduated from high school, there have been more civilian deaths from firearms in the United States than the combined combat death tolls in all the wars in United States’ history.
Tragically, nearly 1,300 of those annual deaths are children aged 0 to 17. In all, about 19 children die or are wounded each day from firearm in homicides, suicides or accidental shootings. That amounts to 91 percent of all child firearm-related deaths among high-income countries.
If this was an infectious disease, there would be demands that the Center for Disease Control get off its bureaucratic butt and do something. Think of the reaction to the Zika virus, for example.
But this involves guns, and it turns out the CDC is prohibited from funding research on firearms deaths and injuries. It seems that CDC research on firearms upset the NRA. The National Institutes for Health? Same problem. During the last 40 years, a combined total of about 2,000 people have died from cholera, diphtheria, polio and rabies in the U.S. The NIH has issued 486 grants to fund research on those diseases over those 40 years. For the same period, firearms have killed about four million Americans. Total NIH grants to look into this plague? Three.
A child-killer that is 2,000 times more deadly than a suite of infectious childhood diseases gets 0.006% of the funding.
And this is a plague that is self-inflicted. There are tens of millions of firearms in America because the country lacks the political will to do anything about it. The NRA mouths platitudes, and tells us “Guns don’t kill people,” but it’s beyond dispute that guns do a better job of it than any tool we’ve put in the hands of Americans.
The stakes are especially high for teenagers, who are often risk-takers and impulsive. Earlier research has shown that teenagers spend 10 minutes or less debating suicide before making an attempt. Yet, suicide attempts with firearms are far more successful and irreversible than other methods.
A society, a culture, that doesn’t protect its children is pretty seriously sick.
But not only does the United States fail to protect its children; it forbids research in how it might protect them. It prohibits even keeping accurate counts of how bad the human carnage is.
Congress, at the behest of the NRA, has put a distorted version of the Second Amendment ahead of all other considerations. Licensing? Nope, although we carefully license far less dangerous activities. Background checks? Seriously inadequate. Out of the hands of the mentally ill? No, it would “violate their rights.”
And so the plague continues, slaughtering and maiming an average of 19 children a day. If you don’t think that’s sick, WC suspects you may be sick yourself.