If a drug were approved by the FDA which in a twelve year period was directly responsible for the deaths of more than 500,000 Americans, what do you think public reaction to this news would be? If you said, “anger” you must be taking something to help you cope with life. There would be lynch mobs in Washington out to hang those who were responsible for unleashing this drug on the market.
I am happy to report that, to my knowledge, no such drug exists or is sitting on our pharmacists’ shelves for dispensation to an unwary public. But there is something out there which is responsible for 517,140 deaths in the period between 1999 – 2011 (the last year for which I could find information). That something is called a car. This data comes from Wikipedia and I have posted the link to it below:
I offer this information to put the terrible tragedy in Newtown in perspective. In no way am I trying to minimize the tragic loss of life of the children and adults who perished in this unthinkable crime.
Nor am I in any way advocating a “pro-gun” position. I have said far too frequently recently that I have never owned nor even handled a handgun, assault rifle or rocket launcher. I am not an advocate for the NRA but I am an advocate for humanity. And as the media frenzy feeds the needs of a blood-thirsty public seeking answers to the causes of this senseless and devastating event, I hope to provide my take on that for you, my readers.
Listed below are the worst tragic instances of loss of life that occurred between 1999-2012 in the United States that were attributable to the use of guns:
December 14, 2012 – USA – A heavily armed gunman killed at least 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and a body was found elsewhere in the town. The gunman was also dead.
August 5, 2012 – USA – A gunman opened fire during Sunday services at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. He killed six people before he was shot dead by police.
July 20, 2012 – USA – A masked gunman killed 12 people and wounded 58 when he opened fire on moviegoers at a showing of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, a suburb of Denver.
November 5, 2009 – USA – A gunman opened fire at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas, killing 13 people and wounding 31. An Army major is charged in connection with the rampage.
April 16, 2007 – USA – A gunman killed 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech, a university in Blacksburg, Virginia.
October 2002 – USA – Two men killed 10 people in sniper-style shooting deaths that terrorized the Washington, D.C., area.
July 1999 – USA – A gunman killed nine people at two brokerages in Atlanta, after apparently killing his wife and two children. He committed suicide five hours later.
April 1999 – USA – Two heavily-armed teenagers went on a rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, killing 13 students and staff before taking their own lives.
This information comes via Yahoo/factbox – and I am providing the link which also details mass shootings worldwide.
If you add up the number of dead from these eight horrible mass gun-inflicted murders, you will find there were just a little over 100 who perished in all of them combined. Compare that with the more than the half million who died in vehicular accidents in slightly less than the same time period.
I know there are those who advocate that all guns be surrendered and destroyed. I understand, and on some level agree with their position. But has anyone out there advocated that we abandon our automobiles because they are killing instruments? Would not a logical person advocate that, considering the fact that automobiles were responsible for more than 5,000 times the number of deaths compared to guns used in mass murders in the same time period?
Neither guns nor automobiles kill people. There are irresponsible people who pull triggers and step on the accelerator who do. And in the absence of their accepting accountability voluntarily for their actions, we as a society need to weed them out and disenfranchise them from either gun ownership or automobile driving.
Once again, it all comes down to taking responsibility for one’s actions. We cannot and should not let government be the mediator for what we inherently know is right but choose to ignore because we are specially privileged or simply don’t think we will get caught doing something we know is wrong.
The next time you break a traffic law, ask yourself why you feel so empowered to violate the common good. What makes you so special? Oh, you were on your way to a service commemorating the lives of those lost in Newtown. Well, I guess that makes it officially okay. And while you may not have taken a life in your haste to do the “honorable thing” today, there may come a time when that is not the case.
And then we will read a little squib in the paper, such as many that we have seen, where you will receive your five minutes of ignominy about how you killed an elderly woman who was disoriented in trying to cross the road, mowed down by your speeding SUV. Because we do not react nearly so ferociously to one old lady’s death as we do to the deaths of twenty children, you will fade quickly from the public’s memory as you serve out your jail time.
You might have deserved a brighter star on the “Wall of Shame” if you had just gunned down the old woman. That would be something that we would remember for an extra nanosecond.