The dead and the dazed
By Jim Poling
Published Feb. 1, 2018
They just don’t get it, do they?
Our neighbours to the south, I mean. Only three weeks into the new year and they already had experienced 11 school shootings.
Last week’s Kentucky school shooting, which left two 15-year-olds dead and 18 other students wounded, was the 50th school shooting in this academic year.
There probably will be another this week, and another next week because research has found that since 2013 a school shooting occurs somewhere in America every week. Some are suicides and some do not involve killing or injuries, but one a week is shocking.
Also, an FBI study found that of all shooter episodes in the U.S., 25 per cent were in education environments and the number is rising.
Gun death figures are totally insane south of the border. In 2013, 1.3 per cent of all deaths in the U.S. resulted from guns. Between 1968 and 2011 a total of 1.4 million people died from gunshots. That is more than the population of Dallas, Texas or San Diego, California.
Not only are the figures ridiculous, so are the arguments against any form of gun control, or research into why the U.S. has so many more gun deaths than any other so-called civilized society.
The U.S. Congress has rejected efforts to have the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research the underlying causes of gun violence.
John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives at the time of that rejection, said the CDC’s job is to look only at diseases that harm public health. He added:
“I’m sorry, but a gun is not a disease. Guns don’t kill people — people do. And when people use weapons in a horrible way, we should condemn the actions of the individual and not blame the action on some weapon.”
A gun may not be a disease yet thousands of people in the U.S. die by the gun every year.
The country just keeps burying its gunshot victims and moving on without trying to find out what is causing the epidemic, or trying to cure it. Those who have lost children to gun violence no doubt would welcome some CDC research into why the country is so gun violent.
Americans, however, continue to wander about in a daze, increasingly numbed by the gun violence around them. The outrage over the latest mass shooting is lesser than the outrage from the one before, and more short-lived.
Many no longer can distinguish between reality and the constant violence they see on their screens. Defence mechanisms have kicked in, allowing them to disassociate from what’s happening around them.
We in Canada should not feel superior. Our gun violence is many times less than that of the U.S., however, shootings in our major cities have been increasing every year.
There is gunfire every day in Toronto and shootings no longer are uncommon in cities like Halifax, Edmonton and even Regina.
However, Canadians at least are willing to talk about what is behind gun violence and what we can do to prevent it. For instance, Halifax police have appointed an in-house research co-ordinator to study the problem. Surrey, part of the greater Vancouver area, now has a task force working on gun and gang violence.
And the Canadian Public Health Association has been advocating a public health approach to ending gun violence.
More gun control laws are not the answer for Canada. We have effective gun control laws and we have research that shows more stringent control will simply hurt responsible gun owners while not getting at the real problems.
Illegal guns and streets gangs account for much of Canada’s gun violence. We need to corral the gangs, and keep them from getting guns, most of which are imported and obtained illegally.
The U.S. needs to open its mind and begin talking about gun violence and how to start putting a lid on it.
That’s a good thought, but not likely to happen. Kentucky, where the two young teens were blown away at school last week, has been considering legislation to allow people with concealed weapons permits to bring handguns onto public school campuses.
Fight gun violence with more guns. Another terrific idea from America’s gun sales folks.