Still missing the boat on gun violence...
To the Editor:
First off, I wanted to thank you Drew Munro and Patrick Brower for your input on the issue (guest opinion Jan. 18), since that is the overall goal of public opinion.
Mr. Brower provided a great example that showcases his many years working in mainstream media. Your ability to sidestep a serious social issue is the same reason it perpetuates. Mass shootings are a result of our social inability to properly treat mental illness along with the overzealous firearms market.
Our lust and sense of entitlement for the biggest and best new gadgets and toys has led to this obsession with assault weapons. It seems gun opponents are their own worst enemy, as their effort to demonize assault weapons has created this false sense of urgency to obtain those particular weapons. The fear that is created with the possibility of complete prohibition drives sales even more, resulting in the very thing they are combating.
Out of all the death and destruction shown from the alarming number of prescription overdoses, the firearms statistic was the only one brought up by Mr. Brower. Still proving that even when the media stacks all firearm-related deaths into a single number, it doesn't compare to the number of deaths directly associated with prescription drugs. Nice try Mr. Brower, but might I also point out the accurate number of "homicides" (since that is the relevant issue when referring to Sandy Hook or mass shootings) includes justified uses of force and cases of self-defense, further skewing the numbers in favor of gun control.
Speaking of a killer approaching the number of deaths from automobiles, firearm deaths still has one to pass (with the current trend it never will). In 2008, nationally there were 39,973 deaths from automobiles, compared to 36,450 from drug overdoses, with the majority being legal opioid pain killers and benzodiazepines. There are no statistics that indicate that the number of firearms sold legally directly affects the number of people killed by firearms; however, there is a direct correlation linking death with the number of prescriptions. Actually, a study by the YRBS (Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found out that the number of weapons brought into and used in schools has dropped between 1993 and 2011.
So we have fewer guns in and around schools, but more mass violence? Interesting, the only other thing that has increased as much as mass shootings since '99 has been prescription drugs, but no one connects the two? The more meds people take the more innocent people die. Between 1999 and 2008, prescriptions have increased four-fold. During the same time period the number of drug overdoses increased 300 percent. The scariest number, in 2010 there were enough prescription pain medications to provide 5 mg pills, every 4 hours, for 30 days straight to every living person in the United States.
The same figures cannot be used for legal firearm sales. If that were true, we would have seen hundreds of mass shootings since more guns are being sold today than ever before. The rates don't compare, so their attempts to cover up the issue is feeble at best. Mr. Munro mentioned the number of deaths from firearms using the per / 100,000 approach, which was 3.59 nationally in 2010 (also thank you for the correction in the final homicide death toll from firearms). In 2008 (no stats for 2010) the lowest state death rate for prescription drug overdoses was in the state of Iowa, with 7.1 / 100,000 dying from prescription drug overdoses, which is twice the number of the national average firearm deaths.
In Colorado, our rate was 14.6 / 100,000 dying from prescription drug overdoses. That is four times the number, in a state that only sells 6.3 / 100,000 prescriptions. For every prescription filled, more than two people die. Imagine if that were true for firearms.
Bottom line is that our lawmakers have a bad habit of trying to fix problems on the back end. They do not use logic or any real statistical information to make their decisions, it will always be about money and which industry supports which candidate or administration. They choose to exploit these poor victims and their families by using them as a catalyst for their political agendas. If they will use two dozen lives to make policy change, then by all means be consistent in that approach. Using one statistic to engage us in reform is a major dishonor by ignoring the thousands killed by their approved and dangerous drugs.
I agree there needs to be some changes on guns, but let's make it relevant to the situation and in reference to mental health. People fail to realize it starts at home, and with the parents. The mother of Adam Lanza should have never allowed him access to the firearms (especially if showing signs of social trouble), and responsible gun ownership could have prevented him from killing so many. What it would not prevent is an inevitable violent outburst as a result of heavy medication.
All of these shootings could have and should have been prevented through good old-fashioned parenting. After all, they are our first line of defense, as many of these troubled teens live for years in isolation being medicated and unnoticed.