Summary: We take pride in our exceptionalism, the ways we’re unique among the developed nations. We tend to assume that these represent advantages, as if different means superior. Our far higher rate of gun deaths, many of whom are children, show the falsity of that belief — and point to ways we can learn from our peers. This is post #1 of 2 today.
Kelbie Ray Nelson, 13, died the day after Christmas in Blackfoot, Idaho, playing with a gun at his grandmother’s house.
For your viewing pleasure on Pinterest: 33 Accidentally shot at WalMart, photos of 109 Children under 14 killed in 2013, 90 photos of Children under 15 killed in 2014, and the growing roster of photos of Children under 15 killed in 2015. You also might enjoy the generic category of GunFails in 2014 and GunFails in 2015.
For something different peruse a list of 69 mass killing events during the past 3 decades (mostly home-grown Americans, not jihadists — so it’s OK).
Two articles from the endless stream
America gets hysterical from SARS in 2003 (774 deaths) and a few cases of Ebola in 2014. A few terrorist attacks prompt massive pants wetting, and a surrender of our rights. But we accept the annual carnage from deliberate and accidental gun use as a sign of our exceptionalism. And so it is; we’re exceptionally mad about guns — as these articles remind us.
(1) “Are Gun Accidents ‘Very Rare’?“, David Frum, Daily Beast, 20 February 2013
In 2007, the United States suffered some 15,000-19,000 accidental shootings. More than 600 of these shootings proved fatal. … The total number of Americans killed and wounded by gun accidents exceeds the total number killed or injured in fires. The number killed in gun accidents is 20% higher than the total number killed in all U.S. civil aviation accidents.
In 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted to ban drop-side baby cribs because these cribs have been blamed for “dozens” of infant deaths over the entire previous decade. The 600+ accidental gun deaths in any single year amount to 50 dozen.
… The Centers for Disease Control reserve the term “very rare” for accidental deaths from vaccines, the number of which is zero, or close to it. If more than 600 people a year were dying from vaccines, we’d have a national uproar, if not a revolution.
(2) As usual, the little ones get to pay for our folly: “Children and Guns: The Hidden Toll“, New York Times, 28 September 2013 — The Times gives heart-rending tales of children’s deaths, amidst horrific data about the totals and terrifying news about the NRA’s work to obstruct efforts to keep us ignorant about the cost of guns in America. Excerpt:
Cases like these are among the most gut-wrenching of gun deaths. Children shot accidentally — usually by other children — are collateral casualties of the accessibility of guns in America, their deaths all the more devastating for being eminently preventable.
They die in the households of police officers and drug dealers, in broken homes and close-knit families, on rural farms and in city apartments. Some adults whose guns were used had tried to store them safely; others were grossly negligent. Still others pulled the trigger themselves, accidentally fracturing their own families while cleaning a pistol or hunting.
And there are far more of these innocent victims than official records show.
A New York Times review of hundreds of child firearm deaths found that accidental shootings occurred roughly twice as often as the records indicate, because of idiosyncrasies in how such deaths are classified by the authorities. The killings of Lucas, Cassie and Alex, for instance, were not recorded as accidents. Nor were more than half of the 259 accidental firearm deaths of children under age 15 identified by The Times in eight states where records were available.
As a result, scores of accidental killings are not reflected in the official statistics that have framed the debate over how to protect children from guns.
… In all, fewer than 20 states have enacted laws to hold adults criminally liable if they fail to store guns safely, enabling children to access them.
… Because of maneuvering in Congress by the gun lobby and its allies, firearms have also been exempted from regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission since its inception.
…. To get more accurate information about firearm deaths, researchers have pushed for the expansion of the National Violent Death Reporting System.
… Under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures, in fact, gun accidents were the ninth-leading cause of unintentional deaths among children ages 1 to 14 in 2010. (The agency reported 62 such killings that year.) If the actual numbers are, in fact, roughly double, however, gun accidents would rise into the top five or six.
Research on guns in America.
Why do we do so little research on this public health problem, with its large annual toll of bodies? For decades the NRA pressured the Federal government to defund studies on the result of gun violence, eventually banning the CDC from research on this (details here). The ban was lifted in 2013, but so far with little effect.
(1) “Rates of Homicide, Suicide, and Firearm-Related Death Among Children — 26 Industrialized Countries“, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC, 7 February 1997 — We’re exceptional!
The rate for firearm-related deaths among children in the United States (1.66) was 2.7-fold greater than that in the country with the next highest rate (Finland, 0.62) … 5 countries, including 3 of the 4 countries in Asia, reported no firearm-related deaths among children.
This article summarizes the scientific literature on the health risks and benefits of having a gun in the home for the gun owner and his/her family. For most contemporary Americans, scientific studies indicate that the health risk of a gun in the home is greater than the benefit. The evidence is overwhelming for the fact that a gun in the home is a risk factor for completed suicide and that gun accidents are most likely to occur in homes with guns. There is compelling evidence that a gun in the home is a risk factor for intimidation and for killing women in their homes.
On the benefit side, there are fewer studies, and there is no credible evidence of a deterrent effect of firearms or that a gun in the home reduces the likelihood or severity of injury during an altercation or break-in. Thus, groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics urge parents not to have guns in the home.
(3) “Innocents Lost: A Year of Unintentional Child Gun Deaths”, Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety, June 2014 — A census of unintentional child gun deaths, pattern of their deaths, and recommendations to reduce the toll.
For More Information
For more real time news flow about the blood flowing on our streets from #GunFAILs, follow David Waldman’s Twitter feed @kalgroX.
Other posts about guns in America:
- The Founders talk to us about guns for a well-regulated militia, 24 July 2012.
- Another mass killing in America. Watch the reactions on the Right., 17 December 2012.
- “The right to shoot tyrants, not deer”, 11 January 2013.
- But Hitler confiscated guns, leaving Germans helpless!, 11 January 2013.
- Guns do not make us safer. Why is this not obvious?, 14 January 2013.
- Let’s look at the Second Amendment, cutting through the myths and spin, 15 January 2013.
- Myth-busting about gun use in the Wild West, 16 January 2013.
- Second amendment scholarship (using money to reshape America), 19 January 2013.
- Do guns make us more safe, or less? Let’s look at the research., 23 January 2013.
- Guns in the wild west: regulated, with no fears about ripping the Constitution, 25 January 2013.
- Our love for gun play grows as our trust in ourself wanes. Logical, mad, sad., 11 December 2014.
- Why do we believe an armed society is a polite society?, 5 January 2015
An accounting of daily gun deaths
New York Times, 21 April 2007 — click to expand.