Alt-Health: Guns — A Public Health Crisis

gunownerThe American Public Health Association (APHA) has long recognized that guns are not just a political or civil rights issue; they are a public health issue. There is more gun violence in the US than in any other country in the world. According to a comparison between comparable nations done by the APHA, 80% of all firearm deaths occur in the US, along with 87% of ALL deaths by firearm of children ages 0 to 14.

We’ve all heard the news about Orlando, and the subsequent rejection by the Senate of any new steps toward stricter gun control. In the past, such resistance by gun advocates has resulted in a quick retreat. But debate over guns has become so incendiary that scores of Democrats in the House of Representatives staged a “sit-down” on the House floor on June 22 protesting procrastination by the GOP leadership. Republicans recessed the House, turning off the media feed to the public, but Democrats defiantly streamed the protest on their cell phones and C-SPAN broadcast the entire circus, which continued for nearly 26 hours. It was a clear message from gun control advocates: “We are mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore!”

And for good reason.

On local news, between 6/21 and 6/24, four separate shootings were reported in Pawtucket, along with a home invasion in which the felon managed to steal not just family valuables, but also the family gun, bought to protect the house against just such an incident.

Local gun shop owners reported that their sales have gone through the roof since the Orlando shootings. Some were generated by a desire for self-protection, but many new buyers wanted to get their guns NOW, out of fear that stricter laws might block them from ownership in the future.

This reveals a sad truth. The entire gun epidemic is being generated by nothing but fear — of invasions, attacks and foreign terrorists. Ironically, what we now have to fear the most is each other. This is a country rife with opioid addiction, economic despair and paranoia. These are not citizens who are making clear, rational decisions.

Before we talk about the right to bear arms, we have GOT to ask whose hands those arms will be attached to. When progun advocates state their case, they are glossing over one very important fact: Even sane, intelligent people can be idiots. And if those people get angry, or suffer from psychological problems, ANYONE who owns a gun can be dangerous. Take a look at these statistics published by the The American Public Health Association:

A gun in the home makes it three times more likely that a homicide will occur and makes suicide up to five times as likely. The risk of accidental death is also four times higher in homes with guns.

In cases of domestic violence, access to firearms increases the risk of homicide more than five times. Abusive partners who own guns tend to inflict the most severe damage on their partners.

A typical argument for gun ownership I’ve heard is: “If some guy in that Orlando nightclub had had a gun, he could have taken down the attacker and saved lives.”

This is an optimistic theory, but it is not grounded in any reality. Unless they have had military level field training, the average citizen with a gun doesn’t have any idea how to handle a crisis situation. During 14 years of teaching and training in a dojo, I witnessed firsthand, over and over, what happens to students in an exercise called Jiyu Waza, wherein they are suddenly blind sided without warning. Their first time out, EVERYONE, to a man, freaks, flails and gets flattened. They may have trained in class for two years, they may have the techniques down cold. But they do not understand the physical effect of uncontrolled adrenaline or what will happen to their mind and body when they are startled by an attacker who has a plan and is pushing forward with terrorist speed. It takes an enormous amount of training to keep your cool under such circumstances.

Today, gun control lobbyists keen on protecting second amendment rights refuse to ban even known suspects on the federal terrorist watch list from buying guns, because they feel it opens the door to restricting the rights of ALL citizens. I would like to point out that there is a “private sales loophole” in that amendment that allows the sale of guns without a background check at gun shows and through other venues such as online marketplaces. This means that even known criminals can have access to guns if they know the right place to buy. Leaving such an open-ended possibility does not protect the rights of honest citizens to own guns. It protects the rights of potential killers who could not pass a reasonable security check.

Enough. Please. Enough.