Now to my biggest peeve: Pre-eminent among our catastrophic failures to assure healthy living for our citizens is our unwillingness to limit the number of guns in the hands of our citizens. We have more than 120 guns for every hundred people. The result is that we have the highest rate of annual gun deaths of any modern democracy in the world. So far this year, we have killed more than 23,000 with guns, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Gunfire is now the leading cause of death of children and adolescents in the U.S. Twenty-seven school shootings have taken place so far this year. Overall, an average of more than 124 people die every day in acts of gun violence.
The places now permanently associated with gun deaths—Uvalde, Buffalo, Highland Park, among many others—will remain infamous in our history. According to the Gun Violence Archive, the Highland Park rampage was the fifteenth time this year that four or more people were killed in a shooting. And more than 220 were shot and killed in the U.S. over the recent July 4 holiday weekend. Yet mass shootings, defined as incidents in which four or more people die, account for less than 1 percent of people killed by firearms in the U.S.
Throughout the nations of the world, the ratio between the number of guns in the hands of people and the number killed by gunfire is the same—the more guns, the more people killed by gunfire. The only way to reduce gun deaths is to reduce the number of weapons in the hands of the people.
My guess is that I’m more sensitive to gun violence than most Americans because of time I spent in combat close to men killed on the battlefield. I know firsthand the horror of people dying from gunfire. It’s the cause of my being afflicted with Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI). When I read of the people killed during a Fourth of July celebration in Highland Park, I flinched. That day I marched in a parade. It could so easily have been me.
More next time