If the Tsarnaev brothers—the duo behind the Boston Marathon bombing—set off two of their pressure cooker bombs every day, in a year’s time they’d amass 1,095 victims (providing they killed the same number of people each day). The total would jump to 1,098 if it happened to be a leap year.
There are an average of 10,000 gun homicides every year in the U.S. If you add gun accidents and suicides it’s over 30,000 deaths each year according to the World Health Organization.
We lose the equivalent of a small city of Americans every year to gun violence. Each year an entire Bangor, Maine is gone. Virginia Tech has 30,000 students in total. Every year the equivalent of a Virginia Tech loses their lives.
The Iraq War took 4,488 American soldiers’ over 10 years.
Nearly 10 times that die from civilian firearms. Every year. No war declared. No goal. No land to win. No regime change. No liberation. No spoils to be had. No armistice. No end game. No plan. No strategy.
The only upside is if you’re a weapons profiteer. Then the body count means wealth. Their future, at lease, is secure.
The weapons industry costs taxpayers untold billions in the form of lost wages, court costs, Medicare and Medicaid costs, insurance claims processing costs, emergency responder budgets and increased policing. All due to our cities being awash in their ubiquitous and unregulated product.
Otherwise it’s a pointless public health crisis that Congress seems pretty ok with. They tell us they don’t want to upset hobbyists by entertaining policy that effects personal arsenals. In the U.S. that’s actually a sufficient answer warranting no follow up. Try explaining that to someone in Japan where they have fewer than two gun-related homicides a year.
Thirty thousand Americans were shot and killed last year and roughly 30,000 will be shot and killed this year.
We accept this as a byproduct of freedom. There’s a legally immune, enormously profitable industry that’s spun a jingoistic fairy tale about how buying more of their product will make us safer.
America has the highest civilian gun ownership in the world. We should therefore be the safest country on the planet. We are not. We have the highest rate of firearm deaths in the top 50 industrialized nations. Of those 50 nations there are around 100,000 gun deaths a year. We contribute a third of them.
(John Lott’s “study” claiming higher gun ownership means lower crime has never been replicated. Save your letters, it’s bunk.)
The September 11th attacks killed 2,996 Americans. We have the equivalent of 10 9/11s every year in gun deaths. They hate us for our freedom.
In Plato’s The Republic, he relays the Allegory of the Cave. There are prisoners who were born and raised in a cave and the shadows of a fire off the cave walls are the only thing they’ve ever seen. It’s their reality. To them it’s normal. Then one prisoner is released. He sees the sun for the first time. He realizes everything he’s ever known was wrong. When he returns to the cave he tries to tell to the rest of the prisoners about the rest of the world. This upsets the prisoners so much, it’s said they’d kill him if given the chance.
This is what it’s like in the gun debate. We’ve accepted our fate—children are occasionally just going to be mowed down by gunfire in school. Or going to a suburban movie theater has certain risks. Or inner cities are just supposed to sound like Fallujah circa 2005. When you bring up other parts of the world that don’t have this issue, you’re treated as a heretic, tyrant and inevitably a Nazi sympathizer/Hitler fanboy.
Yes, the prisoners in the cave suddenly want to kill you. And in this case, they’re armed.
The point remains: We don’t have to have a country like this. We don’t have to live in a country where a 5-year-old kills his 2-year-old sister with a Crickett rifle made for kids. We can pass sound policies which reduce lethal weapons and their capacity. It is possible.
Freedom, after all, is being able to leave the cave, walk down the street and not get shot.
Photo by Greg Cohen