In less than two weeks, we’ve had mass shootings in Gilroy, CA, El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH.
These are just the latest in an epidemic of violence. According to the Gun Violence Archive, in 2019 alone there have been more than 250 mass shooting in the US–more than one per day. Over 240 people died; almost 1000 were injured.
The incidents seem to be getting closer together and more deadly. And the carnage is ongoing at such a rate that people cannot absorb the enormity of what’s happening. Shootings occur in schools, stores, music and food festivals, shopping malls, and places of worship, among others. No location seems immune.
Maybe it’s time to reframe this issue. Rather than considering this as gun control vs. second amendment gun rights, let’s look at this as a public health crisis.
In 2018, we removed all romaine lettuce from store shelves because 5 people died of e.coli poisoning. In 2010, Toyota recalled more than 8 million vehicles because 34 people died as a result of unexpected acceleration. In 1982, Johnson & Johnson recalled 31 million bottles of Tylenol after only 7 people died due to product tampering.
We don’t tolerate fatal incidents in our food, our medicines, or the vehicles we drive. We also didn’t permanently banish lettuce, acetaminophen or Toyota cars. We’ve put warning labels on cigarettes and restricted the sale of alcohol to people less than 21 years old.
At the current rate, the gun violence epidemic will kill close to 500 people this year, and injure double that number. Epidemics aren’t stopped with thoughts and prayers, but with a focused, concerted effort to identify the source and address it.
No one is suggesting all guns should be banned. But isn’t it time we worked together to address the biggest health crisis of our lifetime?
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