How Can Gun Control Still Be Viewed As a Controversial Public Health Issue?

Right now, the controversial public health issue that is tying the whole nation in an anxious knot is preventable injuries brought about through gun violence. As a human being and as a mother, I can only imagine the depths of sorrow afflicting the families and the friends of those wee children and the brave women who tried to save them.

I first saw the sweet, shining faces of those slaughtered moppets on the front page of a newspaper last Sunday. Ever since looking into their eyes in those page-one portraits, sleep has been eluding me. I have been lying in bed at night and closing my eyes only to see their little smiles, their shiny heads of hair; each child giving off that innocent glow that only a tiny tot can share with the world.

And yet people act as if the answer to all these senseless deaths and completely avoidable injuries is so complicated. This is not a biologically complicated public health issue like putting an end to cancer. This particular public health challenge-drastically reducing if not completely eliminating senseless gun-related injuries and deaths-actually does have an easy answer. In fact, it’s an answer that large numbers of countries all over the world have already figured out and put to use. It’s called strong gun control laws. Let me repeat that-really tough, really toothy, really well enforced Gun Control Laws.

The thickness of those Americans who pretend that this is hard as curing cancer astonishes to me. The politics may be rather hard. I acknowledge that. But putting politics aside, this is a problem we could easily solve were we miraculously to come together as a nation and decide we have had enough of innocent people dying because of out-of-control access to guns.

And mind you I do not mean only the mass murders. A child in the inner city, killed by a stray bullet while she sleeps, during a gun battle raging in her apartment building is every bit as horrifying, although such a tragedy NEVER makes the first page of any big city newspaper anymore. Many thousands more innocents die under those kinds of conditions than they do during mass murders like the one in Connecticut.

Last night, on National Public Radio, I heard an interview with an emergency room physician who had helped to care for the victims of another recent mass shooting, the one in Aurora, Colorado.

She mentioned that her international colleagues are amazed and horrified when they hear how often she sees gunshot victims in her Colorado emergency room. She sees the gun shot victims coming in by ones and twos all the time. In her work life, caring for people who have been shot is a routine matter. Her colleagues in Japan and in Europe often say that they have NEVER cared for a person with a gun-induced injury.

Yet this woman, a medical doctor who you would think would have some degree of intellectual capacity, verbally threw up her hands at the end of the interview, decrying what a complicated issue this is. She expressed a resigned acceptance of the fact that people would routinely continue to be injured and die through gun violence in America.

This public health issue in America, the mayhem and murder caused by too many guns in too many hands, is a problem we can solve as nations worldwide have solved it… with strict, well enforced gun control laws. Contact your elected representatives, including the President, and demand sane gun control laws now.