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Another mass killing, and in an elementary school, no less. The shooting and the aftermath are beyond description. Down to a personal level, the pain each individual family feels at the loss of their child is where the rubber meets the road. This is the same feeling felt when any family member is lost — whether in a car accident, to a disease, or some other tragedy. It’s the same pain my friend felt when her 9-year-old son died of a brain tumor. It’s the same pain I felt when my good friend died from cancer at 38 in September. I cried like a baby. It hurt. Death hurts. And as much as hurts, we can’t seem to keep it from happening, no matter how angry we get.
Gun owners everywhere are bracing for the forthcoming outrage against guns and those who own them after the mass shooting in Connecticut. Gun owners hate these kinds of things as much as anyone else does. But did you know that every year 10 times the number of people killed with a gun in the U.S. die from alcohol related causes? Guns-1, alcohol-10. Yet alcohol remains perfectly legal and immune to public outrage. If you are truly outraged at the loss of life in Connecticut and you want to do something to stop senseless deaths, your time would be 10 times more effective in trying to ban alcohol than guns.
Maybe we should at least have a 10-day waiting period on alcohol purchases. And require a background check. If you’ve ever committed a felony, or have a history of alcoholism or mental illness in your family then you can’t buy alcohol. And you can only buy so much every month. After all, alcohol is 10 times more likely to kill someone than a firearm.
And these statistics about alcohol deaths are a fraction of the number of lives destroyed, but not ended by alcohol. Each year countless families are ripped apart, marriages are destroyed, children are devastated, and individuals are tormented by alcoholism. Alcohol is far, far more destructive than the 300 million responsibly owned and handled firearms. “That’s ridiculous — guns are for killing or maiming, alcohol isn’t.” Really? 99.999 percent of the 100 million legal gun owners in the U.S. acquired their guns with no intent of killing anyone and never will. Meanwhile, most of the people who buy alcohol buy it specifically to impair themselves, many to the point of the destruction of their own lives or the life of someone else.
Am I advocating the outlawing of booze? Nope. If you want to responsibly have a sip or even a gulp now and then or even every day, it’s simply not my business. It’s. Not. My. Business. And If I want to responsibly own a gun, it’s not yours.
If guns are truly the problem and outlawing them will solve this problem, then we also need to look at other, much more devastating problems in the U.S.; we need to shut down all fast food operations that serve food that when consumed irresponsibly could lead to obesity or heart disease. We also need to outlaw cars; four times more people die in auto accidents every year than by gun violence — that’s 400 percent more.
And how about cigarettes? For every person killed by gun violence in the U.S., 50 people die from smoking related causes — some of whom never even smoked. And then there are medical errors; for every gun related death, there are 19 deaths from medical errors. We must outlaw medical errors. (You can read these statistics for yourself at the CDC’s own Website: cdc.gov/nchs/deaths.htm.)
By the way, just over half of all homicides in the U.S. are perpetrated with a gun. We need to identify the means by which all the others were carried out and pass legislation to eliminate them. This would include knives, baseball bats, frying pans, anvils and ACME™ brand dynamite. In China, guns are strictly banned, yet murders still happen. In August this year, a man murdered eight people and injured five others — with a knife. That’s a mass murder. Without a gun. In March 2010, a man killed eight schoolchildren with a knife. In May 2010, another man killed seven schoolchildren and two adults with a meat cleaver. Similar crimes have been committed there with items such as box cutters, hammers and axes.
My point is this: We can’t mitigate all the dangers of a free society or of life in general. Bad things happen and they always will. Last month, a terrible accident happened and four people were killed on Highway 50 in Camino. What do we do to prevent this — outlaw deer on the highway? Prohibition of flatlanders on Highway 50? Ban Priuses? Minivans? Kids riding in cars? If kids were not allowed to ride in automobiles, the fatalities of that accident would have been reduced by half. After all, your child is four times more likely to die in an auto accident than from a gunshot wound.
After all the raw emotions settle down, we have to accept that in a free society (and even in a non-free society) bad things will happen. People will shoot, strangle, stab, drown, bludgeon, poison and _____ other people. Even if every means by which a murder can be carried out is banned. Murder is already against the law in any form. Passing more laws will not help. Restricting the freedoms of law-abiding gun owners will not help. Killers will kill and they will kill with whatever they can get their hands on. The worst school mass murder in U.S. history was not carried out with guns — it was with homemade bombs. Forty five people were killed of which 38 were children. Life can be very, very rough and has been since people were invented, and will always be, regardless of our efforts to legislate away the dangers thereof. There will always be evil and unstable people in every generation. They are the true problems, not the inanimate objects they use to perpetrate evil.
There’s more to be said, but until then remember, 100 million legal gun owners didn’t kill someone yesterday.
PATRICK D. MCATEE, SR