The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a non-profit organization that advocates for gun rights. On Nov. 7, in response to medical proponents of gun control, it tweeted, “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, but, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves.”
As a result of the NRA’s statement, many doctors in the medical field are upset and confused by the belittling done in their name. It is doctors who have to stitch and close the wounds of those who are shot when they come through the emergency room. It is doctors who have to examine the bodies of those that have died in mass shootings. And it is doctors who put all their efforts into saving human lives while receiving very little credit.
Mass shootings in America are getting exponentially worse. There have been more than 90 mass shootings since 1982. About 40 percent of the U.S. population own guns or reside in households that do and naturally, with more access to firearms, there are higher rates of murder and manslaughter. The United States holds the highest record of manslaughter in the developed world. Surprisingly, mass shootings only account for a small portion of all gun deaths. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the cumulative 33,594 deaths in 2016, there were 14,415 homicides (of which 71 died due to mass shootings) and 22,938 of the deaths were due to suicides. The remaining 1,305 had other causes of death. The data suggests that easy and ubiquitous access to firearms allows for easier solutions to committing suicide. Just last Wednesday, there was a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif. that left 13 dead. Between 2015-16, homicide was ranked 16 in leading causes of death in this country. Guns were used in 74 percent of those deaths, and even more heartbreaking is the fact that for young adults between 10 and 19 years old, guns were used to carry out 87 percent of the homicides. Guns are pretty much providing a fail-safe way to take lives without the chance of recovery, thus gun deaths are rising.
Dr. Stephen Hargarten, director of the Comprehensive Injury Center (CIC) in Milwaukee, Wis. said, “I rarely take care of a suicide attempt with a gun in the emergency room. The kinetic energy of a bullet is far more effective than taking pills that have a longer duration and more opportunity for intervention.”
In response to the rising gun-related deaths, Democrats are advocating for more aggressive gun-control legislation. Over the course of the past 60 years, the American opinion of gun control has shifted. Now a majority of the Americans are unhappy with the proposed ban on guns, but say that they want stricter legislation. The NRA opposes all forms of gun control in the country and insists that firearms indeed make the country a safer place. The organization has been successful with its opposition to gun control campaign predominantly due to the generous budget to influence members of Congress on gun laws. The problem is that the U.S. has 120.5 guns per 100 people, according to the ProCon site. That means that there are 393,347,000 guns owned by many Americans. People with a harmful motive do not have problems getting access to firearms, and thus we have these cases of mass shootings.
Opponents of gun control say that this regulation goes against the Second Amendment, which states, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." The Constitution was signed in 1787, more than two centuries ago. Times have changed significantly since then, so there is not as big a need for antiquated policies anymore. What facts and figures have shown us is that more gun control policies would simply reduce gun-related deaths. If guns were inaccessible to the average person, mass homicide would not reach anywhere near the current numbers it does. Guns are deadly, fast and easy to maneuver. There needs to be greater action at the federal level in implementing more gun control policies. Not enough is being done in a timely manner. How many more mass shootings can our country sustain? Friends and families have to pay the price for weak regulations that exist today. Hargarten asked, “Where is the federal government in all of this? When there are so many deaths, we need to invest in this issue now. Look what we did with HIV and AIDS when it was breaking out in the 80s and 90s. The federal government addressed it, and the complexity and the political issues, and it helped groups most at risk, by investing our resources appropriately, and it made a huge difference in that disease process. It's imperative that we do that for guns."
Harleen Singh is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. Her column, "Here's to Your Health," runs on alternate Tuesdays.
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