(BRANDON HANSEN/Managing Editor of the Chewelah Independent)
With another legislative session in Olympia, there is another slate of gun control bills that have conservative Facebook whipped up in a frenzy. For the umpteenth year, gun control is among the top issues when it comes to politics and that probably will never change.
We hear the same tired stats that have been thrown out and modeled for everyone’s argument. While I do like to look at some sort of basis when it comes to political topics, it almost appears facts really don’t matter anymore because you can cherry pick basically any subset of data to support your view.
A quick glance at cable news and you might think we have a huge gun violence problem since it is always being talked about. However the top killers in the U.S. for 2019 is:
647,457 dead from heart disease
599,108 from cancer
169,936 from accidents.
160,201 from chronic lower respiratory diseases
146,383 from strokes
121,404 from Alzeimer’s disease
83,563 from Diabetes
55, 673 from influenza and pneumonia
But how often do people draw opposing lines in the diabetes debate, or talk about the accident lobby? When did cable news do a wall-to-wall special report on heart disease?
Some of these causes of death due to poor life choices and poor diets. “Eat healthier” isn’t going to transition into a viable bill on Capitol Hill. Our healthcare system is hopelessly tangled, and while cancer treatment keeps getting better, we don’t have a cure. No amount of legislation is going to stop cancer. We usually don’t even think about the flu or pneumonia but they are actually big killers
When it comes to violence, there are some weird things to consider. You have definitions and terms thrown out there that aren’t clearly defined. There is no accepted definition of “mass shooting,” for example.
While the 30K+ people died in shootings is thrown around a lot in the media, the breakdown of these stats paint a slightly different picture.
In 2016, nearly 23K of these deaths were from suicides, 14K came from homicides and just 71 of them came from mass shootings.
But again this breakdown is really never presented to us by the media or politicians when discussing gun control bills. There was a recent story saying 2019 had the most number of mass shootings on record resulting in the death of 211 people combined.
It’s tragic. It’s sad to see. I’m not condoning gun violence or shrugging it. But when things get put into perspective, blunt objects kill more people a year than guns, with 443 people killed. There were 1,515 people who died in a year from knives or cutting objects. There were 672 deaths from fists, feet and other personal weapons according to the FBI. The maligned firearm – the rifle – was around 400 people.
To me, it begs the question, what good will gun control laws do if it “may” prevent 400 deaths? That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the 30K+ deaths a year. The handgun is the biggest perpetrator of shootings and a large majority of these are people taking their own lives – which is a completely different topic to unpack. While firearms make it easier, people have many other methods that could be used to take their own lives as well.
The reality and numbers smack into what is coming from bills in Olympia and how the argument is framed. Heck the recent rally of thousands of gun rights activists in Virginia was called a “White Nationalists gathering” and the rally was portrayed as something that could erupt in violence at any point. You know what happened? Nothing. People just showed that they want to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.
I was asked “wouldn’t you feel uncomfortable if you were among that group?”
No. No one is going to mess with an armed group of people. Gun owners to me are the people who follow the laws, and I’ve never felt uncomfortable around 2nd Amendment enthusiasts. On the flip side, a recent shooting in Seattle showed that a criminal not following gun laws currently on the books had no problem getting a firearm — again proving our government’s inability to control guns except by making law-abiding gun owners criminals with sweeping rule changes.
I’ve said before, there is plenty of dialogue that needs to happen in this country. I, for one, would like to see more gun training, gun safety courses and more teaching moments. The anti-gun movement is so patently ignorant about how guns even operate, how can they govern them? More information needs to be spread.
But gun control narratives and misrepresentations get spun. It is a perfectly suited political football. Both sides can form their ranks, talk about how the other side is either taking away rights, crazy, out of touch or hellbent on turning America into a hellscape.
With no solution reached in decades of gun debate, what exactly are the goals? Prevent 400 gun deaths out of 38K? Take guns away from law abiding citizens while criminals can still acquire guns? I would just like someone to lay out their end goals as opposed to root for their team in the debate.