In this post I’m not going to talk about gun control.
The topic is all the rage this week, following the June 5th shooting at Seattle Pacific University. It becomes the topic du jour after each mass shooting with the same talking points being regurgitated on either side of the issue.
So why am I not going to talk about it? Do I not recognize the epidemic of gun violence in this country? Or perhaps I don’t see the threat of gun control laws encroaching on our civil liberties as decreed by the Second Amendment? Do I not see how important of an issue this is, regardless of which side I may or may not take?
The question that raises in my mind is what makes this issue so important. I’m sure that question would illicit the reactionary rhetoric of “Are you kidding me?”, but once we strip away the visceral reaction to this act of violence we are left with the aftermath. The resulting loss of life has left people broken and devastated, having their loved ones torn away from their lives.
Don’t misunderstand… I’m not saying this issue is not important. I’m asking why it is so important. I’m presenting a question that, in my opinion, begs to be asked. Why does this particular cause of death take place front and center at every occurrence? Why do mass shootings fill the headlines and become the eclipsing topic of conversation in the media, on blogs, and Facebook comments and Twitter feeds?
Let’s look at the means in which people are tragically taken from us. According to the Center for Disease Control, cause of death in this country in order of percentage are:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory disease
In that list, homicide ranks #15 with .7% of the cause of death. With mass shootings quite obviously falling under this category, they comprise of .008% of those deaths. That means 56 out of 1,000,000… let me spell it out… fifty-six (56) out of one million deaths are the result of a mass shooting.
I hear what you’re saying. Tell that to the families of the victims that lost loved ones in these tragic events. This diminutive percentage does not make it any less real or painful for them. Nor is it any less painful for the families of the people that die from heart attacks. For every 3 or 4 people that die in this country, 1 of them will be from heart disease.
So when almost a quarter of our population is lost to us from heart disease, over a fifth of deaths are due to malignant tumors, why are their contributing factors not flooding the blogospheres and social media? Why are we not deliberating nearly as contentiously over processed foods and environmental pollutants? Why do we shrug our shoulders at high sodium levels that steal our loved ones by lending to diabetes and stroke?
Call my point a red herring if you will, but the numbers speak for themselves. If we are focused on preventing senseless deaths, I personally don’t see the sense of a life stripped away from us by overconsumption of Big and Juicys, or by 1 in 25 people dying in a car accident initiated by a distracted driver. Where is the outrage there? Mass shootings give us someone obvious and easy to blame. The greater percentage of loss of life in this country is much more difficult to seek responsibility for it when it comes down to personal responsibility, when it is ourselves we have to blame.