We Are Doing It Wrong

Jan 21 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Image courtesy of PhotoXpress

Although I am not a brain surgeon, I am amazed and delighted at the rapid improvement Representative Gabrielle Giffords shows after suffering a gunshot wound through her head.

Since the start of 2011 only 3 weeks ago, we have also heard about a fatal school shooting here in Omaha and students wounded in Los Angeles after a classmate dropped a backpack with a loaded handgun on their desk.

Yesterday, I caught the end of a rant on the radio by a congressman, thanking some deity for the fact that Giffords got shot in the US of A. He believes that if she had been injured in Britain, with their national health system, she might not have survived the same wounds.

[Note: I can't tell you who the congressman was; I missed the name, and my student has a fellowship application due today. I'm not working that hard on this post.]

He may be right, but not why he thinks he is.

The congressman feels that the quality of care in this country is superior to the United Kingdom. In general, people across the pond have better access to care, providers trained to the same level as the US, and better statistical measures of health than here in the United States. The one thing they don't have? Doctors with lots and lots of experience treating bullet wounds.

According to the UN crime statistics, last compiled in 2000, the rate of homicide by firearm is 3.97 per 100,000 population in the United States. In England and Wales, the rate was only 0.12. The rate appears to have risen over the past decade in the UK, but it may be higher now in the US as well. Emergency and trauma doctors in the US see more gunshot trauma than their European counterparts, and probably have more expertise. Unfortunate, but true.

So have these high profile gun tragedies led to a call for more control, at least on firearms? No! From another article:

many lawmakers believe the right legislative response to fatal shootings like the one in Tucson is to expand, not limit, gun rights. Ensuring broader access to guns for law-abiding citizens, they argue, can help residents defend themselves if an attack or other emergency occurs. In one of its first moves, the GOP majority that took control of the New Hampshire House of Representatives this month voted to allow concealed guns and other weapons in the statehouse and surrounding legislative buildings. Republicans also reversed a 40-year-old chamber policy that banned concealed guns on the House floor itself.

In Arizona sales of the Glock pistol that injured and killed so many people have soared since the shooting. The Arizona GOP has been pushing to allow concealed firearms to be carried on college campuses. The shooting has not dampened firearm enthusiasm one bit out in the wild, wild west.

Guns don't kill people; people kill people.

But killing someone is so much easier with a gun.

So many killings (and suicides) are spontaneous; without a gun nearby, they likely wouldn't happen. But we would have to "deprive" law-abiding citizens of guns to make it possible; our experiment in arming the population does not seem to be reducing gun violence one bit.

I guess this is one more area where many choose to ignore the statistics from countries with strict gun control, just as they ignore the better health and lower care costs of "socialized medicine" in other developed countries.

Why can't data win one now and then?

3 responses so far

  • WhizBANG! says:

    And it didn't happen this year, but I would be remiss in not mentioning another loaded gun tragedy from late December in the state I will be moving to:

    http://krmg.com/localnews/2010/12/oklahoma-city-man-arrested-aft.html

  • Katharine says:

    And my mother wonders why I'm such a recluse.

    It's because the vast majority of Americans genuinely terrify me.

  • theshortearedowl says:

    In Germany, guns are legal to own, but with licenses that must be renewed every 3 years, requiring safety training, criminal background and mental health checks. That wouldn't be "unconstitutional" in the US, but it sure would have stopped Loughner buying one.

    They also require that guns be kept locked up. I hate to lay more burden on the parents after shootings like the one in Omaha, but that kid should never have been able to get hold of his father's service pistol.

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