We are coming up on the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, in which a young man opened fire on a classroom of first-graders, killing 20 of them and 6 adults — after having killed his mother at home. While nothing can eclipse this tragedy, since then there have been many more tragedies, such as the shooting in Las Vegas, the church shooting in Texas and the recent shooting in Northern California where, thanks to the quick actions of the staff of a local elementary school, the shooter’s attempts to enter the school were foiled. He shot through the windows instead, injuring a child.
In 2014, more than 33 thousand people in the United States died from firearms. For comparison, that’s the same as the amount who died from motor vehicle accidents. Just as we are tirelessly working to keep people from being killed in or by cars, we need to work tirelessly so that fewer people die from guns.
In the wake of Sandy Hook, it looked like we were might have legislation to help prevent gun violence. But quickly we got mired in politics — and a lot of very strong feelings. Clearly, for many people gun ownership is a precious right — and clearly, death from firearms is a complicated problem without easy fixes.
That’s why we need to look for simple ways that we can all work together so that fewer people die. Here are three suggestions. …
I asked a bunch of people that question, including a bunch of doctors, and everyone said that motor vehicles did, by a lot.
They kill the same number of people.
I was really surprised by this statistic — mostly because of how we differently we think about safety with each.
With cars, we seem to just accept as a society that they are dangerous — and that we should make laws and rules to try to limit injuries. Along with licensing requirements that universally require that you show you know both the laws and how to drive, we have all sorts of rules of the road, we require insurance, regular inspections — not to mention car seats and seat belts.
It’s different with guns.
I don’t know whether you’ve heard about this, but on June 2nd Governor Scott of Florida signed a bill making it illegal for doctors to ask if families own a gun. Apparently the National Rifle Association and other gun activists feel that doctors have an agenda when it comes to guns.
They’re right. We do have an agenda.
Our agenda is keeping kids alive.
In pursuit of that agenda, we pediatricians aren’t just concerned about guns. We are passionate about car seats, bike helmets and immunizations. We want to be sure that pools are secured, and that medications and dangerous chemicals are kept out of reach. We worry about whether people are smoking cigarettes around our patients—and as our patients get older, we worry about whether they are smoking cigarettes, or drinking alcohol, or using drugs. Talking to families about guns is just one piece of what we do in our attempt to be sure that our patients grow up. …