Saturday, January 2, 2016

From Our Cold, Dead Hands (A.K.A. Thank You, Bartender, Pour Me Another)

I listened to a sound bit of Nevada Assemblywoman, Michele Fiore's interview with BBC Radio Live at 5 Breakfast broadcaster, Nicky Campbell. Not being familiar with either party or the event leading to the interview, I listened in as unbiased a fashion as possible. Campbell was lambasting Fiore's opinion about one's right to own guns. Sarcastically, Campbell struck, clearly attempting a provocation of emotional response from listeners to lean toward his perspective— that Fiore was in someway deranged for sending out a Christmas card depicting her adult family members holding various guns. Campbell mentioned a particular statistic that stated, "Given the fact that more Americans have been killed in gun crime incidents since Bobby Kennedy's death in '68...than have been killed in all conflicts dating back to the War of Independence. Now some people might see this card and think, 'That's absolutely repulsive.'" From there, there was a discussion about more "facts", where Fiore stated that terrorism is a bigger threat to America than guns. Campbell "fired" back with another factoid, as he stated that, "There's a greater threat from firearms than terrorism, excluding 9/11...over eleven thousand have been killed by firearms, compared with 31 deaths linked to terrorism." No sensible person, except maybe Fiore or others who dare to ignore statistics, would disagree with Campbell's assertion.
Based upon Campbell's statement, just how many people have been killed by guns since Bobby Kennedy's death in 1968? In searching for those precise terms, I discovered this original source from the December 21, 2012 PBS News Hour broadcast with guest, Mark Shields. In the conversation, Shields stated the following, "You know, Judy [Woodruff], the reality is — and it’s a terrible reality — since Robert Kennedy died in the Ambassador Hotel on June 4, 1968, more Americans have died from gunfire than died in all the — all the wars, all the wars of this country’s history, from the Revolutionary through the Civil War, World War I, World War II, in those 43 years." On January 18 of the following year, Politifact ran a follow-up piece that detailed just precisely what the total number of deaths were from all conflicts of war up until that point.  Using data from 2010, it appeared that 1,171,177 American deaths occurred from the Revolutionary War through to Iraq.  The number of firearm-related deaths from the time of Robert Kennedy's death is 1,384,171.
The National Institute of Health's, National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 1997 report on the Epidemiology of Alcohol Problems in the United States makes one take a closer look at, perhaps, a more or equally troubling issue.  I find difficulty in accepting a War on Gun Ownership, as we continue to promote, without discussion and without regard to true consideration for human well-being, alcohol. We blatantly disregard the fact that alcohol related deaths are close to three times the rate of gun related deaths. We promote and glorify a drug that has destroyed more lives than, maybe, we will ever be able to count; still, we struggle to merely research alternative therapies (because, let's call a spade a spade, all you drinkers self-medicate, no different than any other person's choice to self-medicate, albeit, considering any of the litany of ways one may do so).

I am a person whose family (on either side) has never owned, nor will ever own guns, and I've never even shot a real gun, though I once proudly hit a target bullseye from 50 feet away when trying my neighbor's BB gun. As someone who has not wanted to own a gun, I am finding it difficult to criticize those in our society who claim that "the government wants to take away our guns." At first, I thought they were all a little cuckoo, but one by one, each major media outlet from every corner of the globe began a harsh campaign against Americans and our vast gun ownership to the point of some small, practically insignificant (for the intent and purpose of finding the smallest fish in the biggest sea) assemblywoman from Nevada getting criticized and heckled on an International radio show. Indeed we live in a small world, a tiny Earth with a massive agenda. 
Here are some facts according to the NIAAA, taken from the above epidemiological paper:

  • About 1 in 3 traffic fatalities is alcohol related.

  • When adding together other kinds of deaths like suicide or homicide, car accidents, or diseases, alcohol is the 3rd leading killer of people in the United States behind cancer and heart disease.

  • Nearly one-half of drowning, gunshot, and homicide victims were found to be positive for alcohol use.

  • Regular drinkers have 2 times the risk of death from stroke than non-drinkers.

  • 40% of people on probation for criminal offenses were under the influence of alcohol at the time they committed the crime. 

    According to the Secretary of Health and Human Services Tenth Special Report to Congress on Alcohol and Health, the following are also true:
    • Approximately 14 million Americans—7.4 percent of the population—meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or alcoholism.

    • The overall economic cost of alcohol abuse in the U.S. in 1998 was estimated at $184.6 billion. Using the average rate of inflation of 3.37%, that means that the total economic loss due to alcohol abuse in 2015 was $238.5 billion, though the CDC estimates are much higher. 70% of those losses were due to decreased productivity caused by premature death or illness.
    The fact is, since Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, the estimated total number of alcohol-related deaths per year is 88,000.  In other words, in the past 47 years, there have been an estimated 4,136,000 deaths in the United States directly attributed to alcohol.

    If we compare the number of alcohol-related deaths to the number of gun-related deaths, or,

    4,136,000 alcohol related deaths / 1,384,171 gun-related deaths, one is 2.98 times more likely to die from alcohol than one is from a firearm.

    To be fair and so the reader understands where my personal compass points, it's important to note my thoughts on both alcohol and guns:

    I love a delicious alcoholic beverage now and then, especially my favorite and very hard-to-find beer, Samichlaus, or a margarita made with silver tequila and Chambord.  I have many positive and negative, personal anecdotes I could share about alcohol, beginning with being busted by a Philly cop on Algon Avenue when I was 11 years old (I was brazenly walking with a 12oz bottle of Budweiser, right down the sidewalk, in broad daylight) and ending with waking up in the middle of a field when I was 13, as Tommy and I vomited like the Corsican Twins for several hours after cutting school and downing a bottle of Seagrams 7 whisky. 

    I do not believe in glorifying alcohol and I also believe that people drink because it is the only cheap, legal way for people to alter their consciousness (not withstanding the millions of Americans who are hopped up on prescription pain killers), since cannabis and other, much safer means of consciousness alteration have been wrongly demonized and halted in their research due to the War on Drugs, harsh drug scheduling, and mass government and media propaganda. 

    While not being a fan of guns, the skill of target shooting has always seemed like it might be fun. I also like certain gun designs and can appreciate the level of destruction guns wield, whether or not the user's intent is considered right action by the masses. I have also had positive and negative experiences with guns, though mostly negative.  
    In my mind, gun control is a great idea when it comes to criminal background checks, psychiatric evaluation, and requirements for gun safety education.  I think people should be able to own all the guns they want, assuming other criteria are met, and I oppose restrictions on magazine capacity or type of gun.  Lastly, I don't really feel safer knowing people have guns, but I also accept that history has shown it's better to have an armed citizenry when it comes to protection from tyrannical government oppression.

    I think our president, who bottles his own beer in the White House, has done a great job during his terms in office through measures such as aiding economic recovery, health care reform, and by reducing the number of non-violent offenders held in prison, but he, along with other government leaders, fueled by a vast media campaign, is drawn toward gun control.  I can't help but ask why, in light of the undeniable facts, such a campaign exists. It really is enough to make a person paranoid that there is a clear anti-gun agenda centered on logical inconsistencies, to not only "take away our guns", but to create a world campaign to shame Americans in the world at-large, through sensationalized journalistic drivel as portrayed by the likes of Nicky Campbell and others.  

    If we are worried that crazy people have guns and will shoot us, well, why can't we agree to compromise and say that certain standards must be met that make us all feel safer?  Why can't we have national incentive programs for states that enact laws promoting gun safety, like mental health background checks or mandating gun safety education?

    Through all of my opinion or personal standpoint, no one, at least no one who is honest and agenda-free, can deny that society's focus on which bad guy to destroy in the vast battle of Good vs. Evil should definitely move the scope of its focus away from guns and onto the likes of heart disease, cancer, and alcohol, the three deadliest, most destructive factors facing Americans today.

    1 comment :

    1. that's the first argument I have ever respected pro-gun...