They Never Ask ME

Jointogether.org reports that Children in South (are) More Likely to Die from Gun Violence, commenting on a newspaper story in the Florence Times Daily (annoying registration required). Let’s fisk:

Gun violence more likely to kill kids in Alabama

By Emily Eisenberg
Medill News Service

WASHINGTON – In Alabama, a child is three times more likely to die from gun violence than a child in the Northeast, an expert at the Harvard School of Public Health says.

Decreasing this grim statistic is not just a matter of getting rid of guns, but it is treating them as a public health issue, said David Hemenway, director of Harvard’s Injury Control Research Center.

Oh, how nice. Not just a matter of getting rid of guns. No, instead we must innoculate against gun violence?

The Centers for Disease Control reported in January that most deaths under the age of 40 are caused by an accident.

The most common cause of accidental death in the United States is automobile accidents. The second most common cause of these deaths is firearms.

Really? And the name of the report is? A link to the report is provided, where? And now we’re defining “children” as “under the age of 40?

Let’s check the CDC, shall we? They have this wonderful tool called WISQARS that allows anybody access to the CDC statistics in really useful ways. So, let’s check the most recent data, year 2001 for unintentional death, under the age of 40, entire U.S, all races, both sexes: 39,365. Now, what was the portion due to automobile? 23,663. Now, what was the portion of unintentional death by firearm? 470.

BUT, to be fair, the report does say “gun violence,” however I don’t think you’re supposed to really grasp the difference. (Edit: Screw it. I don’t want to be “fair.” This writer certainly didn’t intend to be.

Study carefully the construction of this story. You’re supposed to assume that the “second most common cause of death” is firearm accident. HORSESHIT! Note how carefully the writer juxtaposes “accident”, “automobile accident” and “firearms” – this time without the modifier, “accident.” End Edit.)

This is, after all, a story about children, remember? I’ll come back to this.

“Where there’s more guns, there’s more gun homicides; where there’s more guns, there’s more gun suicides,” said Hemenway.

Well! There’s a tautology for you. I guess it takes a Harvard doctorate to state something as obvious as that.

“I wouldn’t expect it any other way,” said Florence Police Chief Rick Singleton. He said the problem with weapons is the way “people handle and treat them.”

Hemenway, while presenting the findings of his new book, “Private Guns, Public Health,” said government should regulate guns the way it regulates traffic. Guns differ from almost all other consumer products because there is no regulatory agency in charge of managing their manufacture and distribution, he added.

Uhh…. What? “Government should regulate guns the way it regulates traffic??” I wasn’t aware that the Consumer Product Safety Commission was in charge of traffic control. Harvard, eh?

Just out of curiosity, what government agency is responsible for managing “manufacture and distribution” of automobiles? Isn’t that the purview of the manufacturers themselves? There’s a government agent in each manufacturing facility controlling the production lines and approving the distribution plans?

Since the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration was established several decades ago to make automobiles safer, automobile fatalities have decreased 80 percent. The Harvard School of Public Health reported a regulatory agency would have a similar impact on firearm deaths.

One problem with that. Automobiles are designed to transport passengers from point A to point B. Firearms are designed to hurl small metal projectiles at high velocity in the general direction they’re pointed when the trigger is pulled. How do you make them safe? Make them fire Nerf balls? Make them not fire when the trigger is pulled? Kinda defeats the purpose, no?

Another point: There are maybe 250 million vehicles on the roads today (I didn’t go look it up, it’s a wild-ass guess.) Most of them are less than 20 years old. They wear out. They’re replaced on a fairly regular basis. The safety improvements applied to vehicles were not statutorily required of older vehicles on the road. If you own a 1955 Chevy, it has seatbelts only if YOU put them in. There’s no law requiring it. No airbags, either. No third brake light. But there are (by several estimates) 250,000,000 firearms in private hands. New “safety requirements” would affect only the additional two million long guns and one million new handguns that enter the market each year. And those older guns aren’t built with “planned obsolescence” in the design. My 1917 Enfield still works perfectly. So does my 1896 Swedish Mauser, built in 1916. A Colt 1911 made in 1927 probably works just as well as the one I bought new in 1999.

The argument that guns need to be regulated so that they will be “made safer” is asinine. It is false on its face, yet reports like this one keep putting the idea out in front of the public as a “common-sense” proposal.

But keep reading, because this piece is just like all the others in inflating just what that “federal oversight” needs to encompass.

Because the trafficking of illegal firearms between states is such a large problem, Hemenway said that such a regulatory agency should be at the federal level rather than with the states.

Another bait-and-switch. First, the agency is supposed to regulate the design of firearms to ostensibly make them safer, but now the agency is supposed to be responsible for illegal trafficking? Isn’t that just a bit of a leap from the original “regulatory” function? I wasn’t aware that the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration was in charge of “regulating” automobile theft and chop shops.

“There are lots of things we could do, lots of policies that wouldn’t affect people’s ability to own guns for hunting,” Hemenway said.

However, the Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. I own at least a dozen firearms, and I don’t hunt. What about my guns?

Oh, right. “Decreasing this grim statistic is not just a matter of getting rid of guns.”

Gotta ban and confiscate those “non-hunting” weapons.

He said federal regulation of firearms licensing and childproofing are some possible ways to address gun danger from a public health standpoint.

More mission-creep, and we haven’t even established the regulatory agency! NOW the agency is responsible for: “safer” gun designs, illegal trafficking, and licensing!

And this is for public health, remember.

Alabama, like many other states in the South, is among the states with the highest levels of gun ownership in the country. The Rocky Mountain region also has high levels of gun ownership, while the northeastern part of the nation has a relatively small amount of guns.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence’s annual report card gave Alabama an “F” in keeping kids safe from guns.

“Alabama does not require child-safety locks to be sold with guns, does not hold adults responsible for leaving loaded guns around children and does not have any safety standards for handguns,” the Brady Campaign said recently. A spokesman at the organization said it strongly supports Hemenway’s suggestion for a federal handgun regulation agency.

And now we’re back to the supposed heart of the article: The Children™

You remember: “Gun violence more likely to kill kids in Alabama”? “In Alabama, a child is three times more likely to die from gun violence than a child in the Northeast”? Where “kids” is apparently defined as “under 40.” Read that paragraph carefully: Childsafety locks. Loaded guns around children.

So, how many accidental deaths of children were there in Alabama to justify a new federal regulatory agency with sweeping powers to control firearm design, illegal firearm trafficking, and gun owner licensing?

Well, if you define “children” as those 17 or younger, there were six in 2001.

Of course there’s the obligatory mention of the writer’s attempt to be “balanced:”

Organizations like the National Rifle Association argue that the regulations the Brady Campaign proposes would decrease gun-owners constitutional rights, but a spokesperson at the NRA was not available for comment about Hemenway’s findings.

Here you go, Ms. Eisenberg. All the commentary you’d ever want.

Not that you’d ever print it.

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