I have owned guns for at least 40 years. I have never killed or injured anyone with a gun, knife, automobile or anything else. I am deeply saddened every time I see or hear another news story detailing senseless gun deaths and injuries. None of them should happen.
Our sensitivity to gun-related violence has risen dramatically in the last 20 years. Our sensitivity to other types of violent and senseless deaths has not begun to keep up with our concern over gun-related incidences. I believe that one of the reasons for this is because mass carnage is particularly abhorrent to all of us and we fear that we could be caught up in one of these public assaults.
Let me share a few statistics:
•Total gun-related deaths in 2017 (CDC) 39,773.
•Self-inflicted gun deaths (suicide) 23,854, or 60% of the total. (Suicides by veterans are over 7,000 per year.)
•Homicides (murder) 14,542, or 36.6% of the total.
The definition of "mass shooting" remains elusive, but the FBI tracks "active shooter" incidents, which is defined as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated space. By FBI standards, there were 138 active-shooter deaths, or .0035% of the total. (There were 591 injuries.) This is less than 1% of all homicides. This means that for every person killed in an "active shooter incident,” there were 99 killed in other gun violence.
How do these numbers compare with other preventable causes of death and injury?
Here are statistics for automobile deaths and injuries as per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Total deaths in automobile accidents in 2018 was 36,750.
•Those involving impaired driving (alcohol/drugs): 10,800+, or 29%.
•Those involving texting or distracted driving: 3,166, or 8.6%.
•Serious injuries from automobile accidents: 1,889,000.
Here are the statistics for deaths from drug abuse (overdose): (CDC) Total deaths from drug overdose in 2017: 70,237+ (CDC does not track all drugs).
Anyone who honestly looks at the statistics realizes that death from mass shootings is not the No. 1 reason for violent, senseless deaths in our country.
When I look at the statistics, I ask myself why we don't have laws against driving a motor vehicle while impaired. Oh, wait, we do. Maybe we just need more laws designed to prevent impaired driving.
The statistics for deaths from drug abuse are overwhelming. I wonder if maybe we should wage a war on drugs. Wait a minute! Didn't we try that already? I guess we just need more laws designed to stop drug abuse.
Murder, by any means, should certainly be unlawful. Oh, wait…
Of course, you understand that I am being facetious, but my point is we have more laws on the books regarding all of these issues than any normal person would care to count and still we have this senseless loss of life. The failure of each new law will continue to fuel demands for more stringent control and will inevitably infringe upon the lawful rights of law-abiding citizens.
Fifty plus years ago, we started down a path that devalued human life and the sanctity of the institutions that preserve and protect the dignity of human life. Established moral norms were blurred and, in some instances, disappeared all together. In the process we lost the innate moral conscientiousness, flawed though it may have been, that has always served to steer the heart and soul of our society.
Fifty plus years and counting, and no law I have heard proposed can restore what we have lost.
Glenn Messer lives in Green Valley.