I’m not really big on guns. I don’t carry one. I don’t feel safe around folks who do. And I am baffled by U.S. gun laws (see http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/2011/07/11/dont-tread-on-me/).
And it’s probably just as well that I don’t do guns. You see, I tend to be a bit clumsy, and I like my body parts just where they are. And while losing some flesh wouldn’t be such a bad thing, I don’t want to lose a love handle and have to live with one lonely “apparently nobody loves me” handle. A married woman like me needs both.
Besides, I do have a wee bit of a temper. Just try leaving a shopping cart outside of the cart return at the grocery store within drifting range of my car. You’ll see why there are folks who just shouldn’t “carry.”
Actually, it always astonishes me that folks around here are allowed to pack heat. Carry hand guns. Concealed weapons. To me, it’s a recipe for disaster. And personally, I prefer recipes that aren’t lethal. Recipes that result in baked goods are good.
So today when I learned that a man drove himself, his wife and their four children to the grocery store here in Virginia where he accidentally shot himself in the femoral artery while taking off his seatbelt, well, I got pretty angry. And since it doesn’t pay to get mad at him (well, not any more it doesn’t), I’ll direct my anger where it belongs: at the idiots who passed a law allowing that man to put a loaded gun into his pocket. And get into a car that contained four children under twelve.
Those four kids had an outing they won’t soon forget. They heard a bang when their father tried to undo his seatbelt. Only it was louder than the usual click that the buckle makes. Whoa! Instead, Dad shot himself in his femoral artery – the I-95 of blood vessels. When that artery is severed, it generally takes 2 minutes for shock to set in, and 4 minutes to die. I bet his last conscious thought was: “I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!” I’m sure that’s exactly what the EMTs did.
Now I can just see the NRA logic behind this tragedy. You know, he was trying to take off his seat belt when he accidentally hit the trigger. So guns don’t kill people, and bullets don’t kill people. Seat belts kill people.
And this totally avoidable tragedy led me to look up some information to see just how pissed off I should be at the folks in Virginia and 34 other states who have passed similar laws allowing just about any idiot to carry a loaded weapon wherever he or she decides to take it. Bars. Restaurants. Sporting events. Church. Doctor’s offices. Schools. Grocery stores. Yup, all good places to carry a gun. Hey, relax! What could possibly go wrong?
As I was saying, I looked up some stats, because that’s what I do when I am pissed off. It is a healthier reaction to anger than murder, and much harder to prosecute. And I learned that our priorities as a nation have changed. We used to try to save people’s lives.
For example, beginning in the 1980s, here in the U.S. we started requiring people to wear seat belts to reduce fatalities. (In case you didn’t know it, fatalities are BAD.)
The results from seat belt laws have been fabulously successful. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest statistics state that 15,147 Americans survived accidents in 2007 that would have been fatal without seat belts. That’s a lot of people saved by a law that doesn’t really inconvenience us all that much.
By contrast, that same year, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control reported 12,608 homicides where a gun was the weapon of choice. Guns were the No. 2 cause of violent death (homicides) in the U.S. that year. But guns did win the “overall cause of violent death in America” reality TV contest that year. Because homicides by gunfire was trumped by the 17,350 suicides using a firearm, the number one cause of violent death in the U.S. Way to go guns! Nobody can kill more people than you! When there are guns around, the Grim Reaper can just sneak up on a person, when they least expect it.
Silly me, I like to think that a significant portion of those 20,000 people killed by guns in that year, along with the other thousands in other years, might be alive today if there were reasonable gun laws. But I’m just a progressive talking. Why should we care if folks kill each other off with guns? Or if they kill themselves off with guns? Or if they kill themselves accidentally in front of four children and in a parking lot full of other folks who won’t forget today either?
So buckle up, my friends. And think about whether you’re safer with or without that handgun.
Me, I’m going to get off my soapbox now, very carefully. I’ll unbuckle first.