Taking a Shot at a Safer World

Learn how you can do your part to help make the world a safer place.

Taking a Shot at a Safer World

Eleven U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in 2017. According to the CDC, during that same time, 39,773 people were killed by guns (homicides and suicides) here in the U.S. That’s more than 100 people every day. Clearly, we’re in the middle of a serious public health crisis (and war at home), and something needs to be done.

If you don’t think gun violence damages the quality of life of every person in the U.S., consider just how much it robs from the public purse and how much it shortchanges what your government could do for education, infrastructure, healthcare, and more. According to the Stanford University School of Medicine and its Division of General Surgery, Section of Trauma and Critical Care, the average annual cost of inpatient hospitalizations for firearm injury from 2010 through 2015 was over $911 million. Medicare and Medicaid covered 45.2 percent of those costs. Uninsured patients were responsible for 20.1 percent.

And when you include both direct costs, such as medical care, and indirect costs, such as lost wages and the impact on quality of life, firearm violence is estimated to cost $229 billion annually. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The researchers also note that gun violence has cost our healthcare system approximately $2.2 trillion over the last decade, and continued readmissions and long-term healthcare costs of firearm-related injuries will be a persistent strain on our healthcare system.

Those alarming statistics aren’t looking at the human suffering and wide-spread anxiety that repeat episodes of gun violence inflict on individuals, families and communities. There were over 9,000 more suicides by gun than homicides using guns in 2017 and the suicide rate in the U.S. has escalated 33 percent since 1999.  So, what should we do? Here are some ideas.

Reinstitute the assault rifle ban: A national assault weapons ban was signed into law in 1994. It was allowed to expire 10 years later. Since then, approximately 1.3 million assault rifles have been sold each year along with 8 to 15 billion rounds of ammunition.

The good news: Since the ban expired, on a state-by-state basis, registrations, background checks and progress in licensing have reduced assault-style rifle access to people with criminal records (such as domestic abuse). But national legislation would be good.

More good news: The will of the people is beginning to be heard.

  • 70 percent of U.S. voters support banning high-capacity magazines and 68 percent support banning all assault-style weapons.
  • 88 percent favor background checks (69 percent of NRA members do too!) on all gun sales and 78 percent favor creating a national database with information about each gun sale.
  • 78 percent of voters support a mandatory waiting period of three days after a gun purchase before it can be taken home.

Make gun purchaser licensing universal: Research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that, “of the approaches used by states to screen out prohibited individuals from owning firearms, only purchaser licensing has been shown to reduce gun homicides and suicides.” Petition your state politicians and other organizations for purchaser licensing.

Gun owners should act more responsibly, too. Lock up your guns in one place and ammunition in another. In 2016, firearm injuries were the second leading cause of death among kids up to age 18 (motor vehicle crashes—mostly due to cell phone use—were #1). Take a handgun safety course; check out handgunsafetycourse.com.

Let’s all work together to stop this waste of lives and resources. The New Zealand parliament managed to pass legislation banning most semi-automatic and military-style weapons, complete with a buy-back program in just nine days after a mass shooting that killed 51 at two mosques in Christchurch. Their hope is to get as many of these assault weapons off their streets ASAP. Can we?

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