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How Gun Lobby-Driven Laws Foster Childhood Shootings

How Gun Lobby-Driven Laws Foster Childhood Shootings

Picture of Martha Rosenberg

"Unintentional poisoning killed 838 children in the US in 2010; more than 90 percent of them were teenagers, ages 10-19," says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Child Injuries page. "130,000 children visited emergency departments for unintentional poisoning-related injuries in 2011… About 80 percent of these calls were for children under 6, and roughly half of them involved exposures to medications."

 

But search for similar statistics about gun deaths of children on the CDC website and you will find a big back hole, thanks to NRA lobbying. The NRA has succeeded in getting legislation passed that blocks government health agencies from studying gun violence lest it lead to tighter laws. In fact, you will find more entries for "nail gun" safety on construction sites on the CDC site than for the 5,000 plus children killed by guns every year in the US, which is almost six times that of poisoning deaths. Thank you, NRA.

 

Gun lobbyists and the legislators whose strings they pull enacted this legislation the same way they have prevented a registry of gun owners or retention of background check information by authorities for more than 24 hours. They tack it on to appropriation bills which receive little debate or discussion because they are viewed as "must pass," mandatory legislation. The riders prohibit the CDC and also the National Institutes of Health from spending funds to "advocate or promote gun control," says the Center for American Progress in a March report.

 

Why? Because gun violence is a law enforcement issue and government research agencies should not be participating in policy debates, bluster NRA lobbyists. Don't confuse us with facts!  The NRA doesn't mind gun violence being a law enforcement issue because it personally pushed through most of the EZ gun laws we are living with like the prohibition of registries, record retention and prohibition of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from requiring dealers to conduct annual inventories.

 

Thanks to "no inventory laws," a single dealer had 997 guns that were unaccounted for and 93 that were not logged in, during an inspection last year reports, the Center for American Progress. 1,300 illegal Chicago guns were traced to one dealer, Chuck’s Gun Shop since 2008. And Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma, Washington lost 238 guns in three years–one of which surfaced as a gun used during the 2002 Maryland/Washington D.C./ Virginia sniper murder spree that left 10 dead. What's a little unaccounted for inventory?

 

The NRA-driven riders against studying gun violence and deaths are not overt bans, but are perceived as a warning to government agencies that their funding will be cut if they tread into gun violence terrain. Since the prohibition against spending funds to "advocate or promote gun control," funding for the CDC to study firearms injury prevention has fallen from over $2 million to around $100,000, says the Center for American Progress report--that's 95 percent.

 

"Most of these poisoning-related deaths and injuries are predictable and preventable," says the CDC website, announcing its 2012 National Action Plan for Child Injury Prevention (NAP), an initiative developed "with more than 60 stakeholders to spark action across the nation." No such action plan exists for the six times as many children killed by gun violence. "Predictable and preventable" gun violence like the 2-year-old Kentucky girl who was killed by her 5-year-old brother with a rifle he had been given as a gift, this week. And the 4-year-old who shot and killed his 6-year-old his playmate in New Jersey, last month.

 

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Comments

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Dear Ms Rosenberg,
I've lived in countries (Germany Japan, and Luxembourg) where there is national health insurance, and the attitude toward others is kinder when you know everyone cares in this most vital way for everyone.

I was wondering if your knowledge/research into gun violence shows a link between the potential for gun violence and lack of universal health care. Gun violence injuries cost billions every year.. I want to suggest that if our country had universal health care, there would be fewer shootings - 1) because kids would grow up in a less violent country, and 2) because there would be collective incentives to NOt tolerate gun violence medical costs.
Meanwhile, private health insurance companies profit from gun violence injuries. Can you determine what portion of private health insurance profits we an attribute to gun violence? (I haven't been able to find this data.) Until we can show the money cost of our perverse understanding of the 2nd amendment, I fear we will not make much headway. People don't seem phased by the outrageously high numbers of deaths, injuries, and disabilities from guns.

What do you think? Please let me hear from you.
Thank you,
Carol Grieb, Lawrence, KS

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