The following is offered to stimulate frank discussion between well meaning citizens, without the inflammatory issue framing from the political left and right. In the November 14, 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, Vol. 318, No. 18, p.1763-1764) the editors issued their editorial, called “Death by Gun Violence–A Public Health Crisis”. They brought to light facts which are seldom seen or discussed, which make the case that the Public Health is at risk and can be addressed by policy makers in ways to significantly reduce the risk.
- From numbers reported through 2015, the authors provided the following:
- Annually, more Americans die from firearms than from motor vehicle crashes.
- Almost 100 Americans die daily from firearm violence.
- Since 1968, more Americans have died from firearm violence than in battle during all wars our nation has fought since it was founded.
- Over 60% of gun deaths in 2015 were suicides. Of attempted suicides, guns are 90% effective, whereas drugs or slitting of wrists are ineffective 90% of the time.
It is true that numerous polls have shown that a majority of citizens want action taken which will make a difference. The conflict arises over the money and political pressure from the NRA, and the talking point that the 2nd Amendment right is absolute. Others believe that such is capable of regulation, something which the United States Supreme Court has already determine is lawful.
Of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, there are few such rights that are absolute. Most are regulated. The example most often cited is the limit on free speech prohibit calling out “fire!” in a crowded theater. We have the right to free speech to a point and is reasonably regulated.
The JAMA editors make their case that guns do indeed kill people. They observe that while many of the suggestions in the news these days which are designed to help decrease firearm violence may help, the key is to understand and reduce exposure to the cause. They assert this is like any other health epidemic, but no health epidemic has ever had the intensity of political rhetoric in nearly every corner of our communities.