By Ed Raymond
It’s Time to Kill a Virus that Has Killed a Million and Costs the U.S. $35 Million a Day
Legend Wheeler of Washington, D.C. found his father’s loaded gun in the living room of the family’s apartment, pulled the trigger, and killed himself while his father was in court for a hearing for two firearms offenses. Legend’s mother had often complained to his father about leaving loaded guns around the apartment. Legend was one year old.
In 2015, surveys indicated 4.6 million American children lived in homes with at least one unlocked loaded or unloaded firearm. If those firearms were locked up, the accidental death rate of children would go down by a third.
While we have more than 700 billionaires who can afford to buy $500 million superyachts, complete with swimming pools and basketball courts, they object to paying taxes to support education at all levels and help build livable middle- class communities for everyone.
We have been killing more than 40,000 a year with firearms for more than decades (In pandemic 2021, about 45,000 killed and 130,000 wounded) and wounding more than 100,000.
Medical and economic authorities estimate gun violence in the Divided States of America costs the economy and us $557 billion. That’s at least five times the nation’s budget for the Department of Education. This outlay of money represents the lifetime costs of the three types of costs:
(1) Immediate costs such as police investigations and emergency medical treatments,
(2) Subsequent costs such as treatment, long-term physical and mental health care, earnings lost to disability or death, and criminal justice costs, and
(3) Quality of life costs over a victim’s life span for pain and suffering.
When Around or Concealing and Carrying a Firearm, Always Be a Little Bit Nervous
I must confess I have never purchased a firearm in my life. I have hunted game with firearms owned by my father until I had a family. He had a double-barreled ten-gauge we used for birds and small game. Squirrels make a great stew. We are French, so we hunted wild rabbits and raised domestic ones for food. Better than chicken, duck, goose, or pheasant. The .22 rifle was used for raccoons, rodents and other marauders. Firearms are tools for farmers.
An eight-year term on reserve and active duty as a Marine Corps officer taught me a lot about firearms and other weapons. I earned a Marine Expert Rifleman’s Badge with an M-1 semi-automatic Garand on the rifle range. I was lousy with my assigned Model 1911 45. Caliber pistol side arm. As commander of a heavy machine gun platoon, I fired .50 caliber machine guns, 30 caliber water-cooled heavy machineguns, the Browning Automatic Rifle that weighed 22 pounds (always carried by the smallest privates in the platoon!), the Thompson submachine gun, the .30 carbine, .60 and .81 mortars, and the .105 artillery piece.
The Marine Corps taught me a valuable lesson for life. Always be a little bit nervous when around or carrying a firearm because you are carrying death. Evidently Legend’s father was not the nervous type.
I admit I have used a firearm to keep people from robbing me. Before I-94 was built I used Lakeshore Drive and South Chicago streets to get around Chicago to go east to Parris Island, South Carolina for Marine Reserve training. The famous “windshield washers” of South Chicago would rush out at stoplights and start to clean them. When the light turned green they would stand in front of the car until you gave them money. If I were forced to stop at a light, I would hold up a pistol I kept on the floor. It discouraged them from running toward my old Plymouth.
To Congress: Why Do We Lead the Top Twenty Countries in Child Firearm Deaths?
A shocking critical fact: Firearms are the leading cause of death of children in the Divided States of America, way ahead of car crashes, other types of injuries and congenital diseases. In other rich countries, firearm deaths are not even among the four. The DSA accounts for 97% of children firearm-related deaths despite having just 46% of the group’s overall population. This “exceptional” country doesn’t seem to be embarrassed by this horrible statistic.
Here are the percentage rates of firearm deaths of people ages 1-19 for seven 0f the top 20 industrialized nations: Divided States of America-56.2, Canada-6.2, France-3.1, Australia-1.6, Germany-1, United Kingdom-0.5, and Japan-0.3.
Not only do we lead the world in the rate of COVID deaths, we kill kids with a firearm rate that shocks the world. Our rate of firearm deaths among Black children has been skyrocketing, while the 20 other countries have decreasing rates over the last decade. Congress: Isn’t it time you question why? If the DSA had firearm death rates equal to Canada’s, about 26,000 more of our kids would be alive today since just 2010.
How many other countries among the top 40 industrialized countries average more than two firearms per adult like we do? No country comes close! No one knows how many firearms we possess because no registration is required. Estimates range from 400 million to 450 million firearms in the U.S.
Some have more than others. Only a third of Americans claim they own a firearm. Fewer than half admit they live in a house that has a firearm. A survey conducted by Harvard and Northeastern University states that the number of firearm owners in America increased by 20 million since 2015, to 75 million. More than 16 million said they carried a handgun at least once a month, and six million said they carried daily. In just four years that number has doubled.
Using a firearm to hunt or recreation? Not anymore. Last year the Gallup Poll discovered 88% of firearm owners had weapons for “crime protection.”
People Tend to Carry “Heat” when They Are Exposed to More Heat
Public opinion is often completely different from public facts. For nearly 30 years large majorities of Americans said every year that crime had risen nationally since the year before. Even if it had fallen sharply. In 2013 Pew Research said the public was simply unaware that the homicide rate had fallen more than 50% since 1,993. The COVID pandemic frightened people into buying five million firearms in 2020 and 2021 because, many said, they were afraid of “government collapse.”
Climate change has brought another element into the recent increase in shootings. Heat increases the number of stress hormones which then increases aggression. If it’s hot in the house, we leave it more often and increase social contacts. For most cities the highest increased risk of shootings occurred between 84F and the high 90s. Research by the journal Jama Network Open found that in the top 100 cities with the highest number of shootings, there were 7,973 in above-average temperatures. The research included firearm incidents with at least one person killed or injured. Suicides were not included in the final figures. The research also proved that tree cover and lots of green space reduces gun violence in poor and deprived neighborhoods. The journal also said we are in the middle of a “public health crisis” because firearms are the leading cause of death among children and adolescents.
Jackie Hagerty at 17: “I Saw Horrific Things No Seven-Year Old Should See”
Jackie was in one of the Sandy Hook Elementary classrooms when a 20-year-old nutcase with a Bushmaster XM semiautomatic rifle fired 154 military rounds in five minutes and killed 20 first and second graders and six adults ten years ago. She is haunted by the images and suffers from trauma, survivor’s guilt, and hypervigilance that has her looking for doors and escape routes. She says: “Every place I go I have to know how to get out.” One of her classmates was pulverized by eleven bullets. Those military bullets don’t make holes. They blow up pounds of brains, bones, and flesh.
As the commander of a Marine heavy machine gun platoon back in the 1950s, it was my job to establish fields of fire and crossfire to protect our troops on line from opposing infantry. It’s the science of killing the enemy when he is in open territory. The British lost 20,000 troops in one day in World War One in Europe from the first lethal use of German machine guns firing hundreds of rounds a minute.
As a teacher, administrator, principal, and Fargo School Board member after retirement, I was involved whenever new schools were built from 1958 to 1997. We did not have to worry about protecting K-12 students from firearms during that period.
Today, I would have to use my experience in establishing Marine fields of fire and what stops bullets in new schools. How much curve do we put on halls to limit fields of direct fire? What windows and doors need bulletproof glass? What doors must be made of armored steel? What electronics do we need so we can automatically lock all doors instantly? What protections do we need in each classroom, bulletproof half-walls or back rooms? Where do we keep first aid materials and other equipment to use for bullet wounds? How many cameras do we need in classrooms, halls, and parking lots? What communications do we need wherever students are assigned? How do we conduct lockdowns? Do we buy Kevlar shields for students? How many mass shooting drills are needed? How much bulletproof furniture do we buy? Teacher and student desks and podiums? There are hundreds of questions.
What Countries Are Teaching Children and Teenagers How to Treat Bullet Wounds?
The U.S., of course, is the only country that has an insane firearms public health crisis. Cities from Canton, Ohio to Durham, North Carolina to Chicago are using a program developed by the American College of Surgeons. It is being adopted by many cities for use in preschool-12 schools. Emergency and trauma center doctors have been emphasizing for two decades the damages caused by military ammunition to brains, bones, organs, and flesh.
Children as young as three are taught how to stop the bleeding from bullet wounds by using bandages, scarves, paper towels, or anything else you can stuff in a small or big hole. In Durham, firefighters have the duty of teaching the young how to use pressure to stop bleeding until trained first responders come.
To Congress: Where is that guy Wayne who said we could only control bad guys with semi-automatic guns with good guys with semi-automatic guns? He led the campaign of the gun culture to flood the streets and valleys with .50 caliber sniper rifles, AR-15s that can fire 700 rounds a minute, Glocks that can handle 30-round magazines, street-sweeping semi-automatic 12-gauge shotguns with 12-round magazines, and devices that can turn rifles into automatics.
Wayne made millions for himself and billions for his employers while he used hunter’s money to buy $5,000 suits, take private jets to exotic resorts around the world, and have his wife shoot an elephant for him in Africa. The gun culture has created a public health crisis with a virus as dangerous as the Black Plague. How do you stop the bleeding of a seven-year-old boy hit by 11 bullets?
Ten years ago, 20 six-year-olds were shot and killed by an adult. Now we have a six-year-old deliberately shooting his teacher. Think it’s time to act?
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