This is an oldie but a “goodie” written back on 13 June 2016 after the Pulse Night Club mass shooting. It explains the public health approach and how it helped traffic fatalities to dramatically decline. There is no reason we cannot take the same approach nowadays.
What is it about the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid and its guns? The massacre at the Pulse Night Club, the murder of Christine Grimmie, and then there is this numbnutz who shot his wife clean through her head as he was cleaning his gun.
Do we EVEN need to talk about whether or not (a) there is a fucking problem or (b) there are fucking solutions? Okay, for those of you who do, here are a couple of articles to look at. For those who don’t skip to the next section.
The Fucking Problem
Vox has many excellent articles, explainers, card stacks, and videos on the topic. Here are two explainers with videos attached (I can’t get the videos to embed; why should blogging be any different than my love life? Ha ha ha, see what I did there? Embed, in bed? Hunh? Hunh? Pretty good, hunh? Man, sometimes, I just crack myself up!)
- Here’s what Democrats want to do on gun control after the Orlando shooting
- A huge international study of gun control finds strong evidence that it actually works
More Fucking Problem
There is Volsky who collects the tweets of lawmakers who voted against preventing terrorists from purchasing guns. Some of these are pretty darn pathetic.
Deep & Shallow Thoughts
We all know the problem with stating that guns are a problem in America or that we can have common sense gun control measures. The pro-gun folks will just write you off as a liberal with a take all the guns away agenda! They have lots of catch-phrases to use in addition to offering lots of thoughts and prayers and hearts and whatever else our lawmakers are doing instead of passing legislation, we have people who will say:
It is too soon to be talking about gun control
Don’t politicize the mass shooting tragedy by pushing your liberal agenda!
An armed society is a polite society
We’ve seen this before on this blog: Moscovici’s minority influence states that one way the minority can convert the position of the majority is to get the majority to think deeply about the problem. By offering these platitudes, the pro-gun folks effectively stop any deep thought on gun control.
Gun violence in America is a terribly complicated problem and, as such, will require a multifaceted approach to solve. A ban on assault rifles will not stop suicides by gun (63% of all gun deaths in the States, by the fucking way). And don’t let people tell you there isn’t a problem with gun violence because if you remove the suicides you reduce the fatalities to less than 10,000 deaths per year. We care about the suicides, too, goddammit! They count.
Traffic Safety to the Rescue!
We shouldn’t despair completely, though. There is a model of a problem that caused tremendous harm through injuries and deaths and costs to society and that we reduced the number of fatalities by over 90%! If that were the case, wouldn’t you want to see if it could work for a problem that caused 30,000 deaths a year? Hell, yeah — unless you’re pro-gun and then you just shrug and say, meh.
What were we so successful in resolving? Traffic fatalities. Dig it:
The CDC reports that between 1925 and 1997 the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled declined by 90 fucking percent! It went from 18 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 1925 to 1.7 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 1997. Let’s look at a picture or two:
Here we see that in 1925 the tip of the blue line (deaths) is up about halfway between 15 and 20 deaths per million vehicle miles traveled. Then if we follow the blue line (deaths) across the graph, we see that it declines fairly steadily with several localized peaks until in 1997 it rests about a quarter of the way between zero and five deaths per million vehicle miles traveled. What’s interesting here is that the green line does just the opposite: the number of vehicle miles traveled increases dramatically while deaths decreased dramatically.
You know what else increased from 1925 to now? The number of people living in the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid. The number of cars. The number of drivers. The number of miles of roadway. The speed that the cars can travel. EVERYTHING INCREASED, yet deaths have plummeted.
Again, it is easy to see the dramatic declines in the number of deaths by population and by vehicle miles traveled. All while everything related to cars, driving, and traffic increased!
How did this bloody miracle happen? The Department of Transportation lists six principles it follows in making our driving and roadways safer and anyone who is as old as the hills, like me, remembers these as they occurred even if this document is planning for a further reduction by 2018:
- Principle 1: Getting the stakeholders to collaborate
- Principle 2: Change the public and individual attitudes about road safety
- Principle 3: Make safer vehicles by using improved technology
- Principle 4: Make safer roads by using improved technology and road data
- Principle 5: Encourage communities to develop data-driven roadway safety plans
- Principle 6: Hold the department accountable through “through improved data, integrated planning, and measurable performance targets.”
I remember the beginnings of wear your seat belt public safety messages. The debate about reducing highway speeds to 55 mph. The introduction of air bags. All of these things helped.
We license drivers. We require car owners to have car insurance. We offer drivers ed courses to improve driver education and mandate them for specific infractions and reductions in fines and insurance premiums. We have yearly inspections of our vehicles to ensure they meet certain standards. We register our cars with the government. We collect actual reliable data on driving, cars, and traffic accidents so we can base law, policy, and design of something solid that we know.
Why can’t we do the same for guns?
We have Constitutional right to guns but not to cars. The right to bear arms is detailed in the Bill of Rights, so we can’t do anything to limit the right of the people to bear arms. Suck it liberals!
- We have a right to free speech, but not a right to hate speech.
- We have a right to assemble, but not a right to riot.
- We have a right to our religious beliefs free from government interference but we don’t have the right to insist that everyone conform to our religious beliefs no matter how sincerely they are held.
- We have a right to refuse the housing of soldiers in our homes during times of peace. What? That’s a right? The government could do that? Who knew this was in the Bill of Rights?
- We have the right to privacy and to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure, but we cannot hide our terrorist links or child pornography on our smart phones.
- We have the right to a speedy, fair, and impartial trial, unless you’re black and then you’re guilty.
- We have the right against double jeopardy no matter what Alex Trebec says.
- We have the right to not be cruelly punished even though we’ve changed our minds about the cruelty of the death penalty and states are doing chemistry experiments on real live human beings and the execution of demonstrably innocent people and that the death penalty does not affect crime rates in any way whatsoever.
- We have the right to have rights that are not listed in the Constitution or Bill of Rights and the government doesn’t have the right to violate them, so there! It’s right here in the Constitution! Marriage equality, transgender bathroom rights, interracial marriage, reproductive health rights all that shit that conservative mo’fo’s love to hate.
- And, we have the right for states to exercise limited sovereignty in the areas that the Constitution has not attributed to the federal government but that doesn’t include slavery and limiting voting rights and gerrymandering Congressional districts and polluting the environment.
When the exercise of our rights infringes on the rights of others, especially when it impinges upon the safety of others and harms our communities, the state can limit those rights. So, why can’t we regulate guns so long as we don’t interfere with the formation of a well-regulated militia?
It has gotten to the point of obscene absurdity. There is no rational explanation for this obsession with guns. Obsession? Obsession? Did someone say obsession? Well, we know what drives obsessive repetitive behavior, now, don’t we? DOPAMINE!
Seriously, y’all, this is madness. When a fellow with a criminal record, suspicions by the FBI of being a terrorist, and committing spousal abuse can go out and buy a gun legally, then something is very very wrong with our system. We can fix this system. It just takes political will, i.e. voting. Why in the fuck do liberals sit out by-elections? Why? This needs to be a single issue vote until we get enough legislators and a president with the huevos to take the steps to fix this problem.
We also need to know that it will take twenty or thirty years to fix. Just like it did with traffic fatalities. But, data-driven solutions are available to us, if we’ll avail ourselves of them.
Call your legislators and tell them to treat guns and gun violence as a public health issue as we did cars and traffic fatalities.
- Call My Congress: Uses your zip code to locate your Congressional Representative and your Senators. And, it returns phone numbers, tweeter handle, party affiliation, voting record, and link to C-Span appearances!
- Call Your Rep: Uses your address to give you your representative and senators but with their local and DC addresses and phone numbers.
- The Capital Hill Switch Board: (202) 224-3121.