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How Come Thoughts and Prayers Don't End Gun Violence?



So, yesterday, somebody evidently walked into a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, pulled out a gun, and by the time he or she was finished shooting the place up, at least five people were dead, and another dozen were injured.

This time, the thought and prayers were first sent out by the nightclub itself, which also praised some patrons for how quickly they subdued the individual who had the gun.

The reason I’m not yet sure about the gender of the shooter is that the club, Club Q, isn’t just another place which wants gay patrons to feel welcome. In fact, it promotes itself as an LBGTQ club, not just some gay club, okay?

Remember back in 2016 when a guy killed 49 people and wounded 53 more at a gay nightclub in Orlando? There were thoughts and prayers all over the place after that mass shooting took place. For that matter, when 58 people were shot to death at a rock concert in Las Vegas and hundreds were injured, even Donald Trump got onto the thoughts and prayers bandwagon following that 2017 event.

The truth is, there’s only one way that we will get rid of mass shootings, which continue not occur with an almost banal frequency in the United States. And that way is to get rid of the guns which are used to commit mass shootings, meaning guns which shoot military-style ammunition from bottom-loading, semi-automatic guns.

Note that I say ‘get rid of’ those guns. Not ‘control’ those guns. Not ‘better regulate’ those guns. Get rid of the goddamn guns, period.

I have been writing about guns and gun violence for more than ten years, and during that time, at least 160,000 Americans have died because someone stuck a loaded gun in their faces, pulled the trigger and – blam!

The pro-gun gang of course explains this loss of lives as the price we have to pay to protect our 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ The anti-gun gang, on the other hand, says that we can solve the problem by a) getting more research funds from the CDC; b) pass laws which allow people to request that guns be taken away from individuals after they behave in a menacing way; c) ban the sale of new semi-automatic guns but let the 100 million semi-auto guns that are already out there remain in place.

This is all bullsh*t on both sides, and everyone knows it’s bullsh*t, by the way. But in a country of 326 million people, another ten or twenty thousand unnecessary deaths each year is no big deal, particularly when you can use those deaths to send out an appeal for more funds.

I have a friend named Mike Hirsh, who is a physician at U/Mass. Memorial Hospital in Worcester, MA. He has gotten together with Pina Violano, the Injury Prevention Coordinator at Yale – New haven Hospital, and together these two individuals (and some others) are committed to doing the one thing that will ever make a difference to gun-violence rates in this country, which is to promote and organize gun buybacks in communities throughout the United States.

So far in 2022, Hirsh and Violano have become aware of 58 buybacks that have been held in 15 states, but there are probably other buyback events which have occurred. Of course, if you listen to some of the gun-control experts out there, gun buybacks ‘don’t work.’ This is the judgement of Garen Wintemute, who is invariably quoted by the media in a town where a buyback has just taken place.

But Wintemute doesn’t know what he’s talking about because a voluntary return of guns is not and should not be judged as a program to reduce gun violence. Rather, the whole point of a buyback, which is not a confiscation of guns, is to get people thinking about and talking about the risk to community safety represented by guns.

Right now, somewhere around 60% of all Americans believe that a home containing a gun is a safer place than a home without a gun. And since maybe 40% of all American homes contain a legal gun, obviously there are lots of non-gun owners out there who also think that having that old Smith & Wesson lying around is a good thing.

Now the fact that research published thirty years ago indisputably found that access to guns creates medical risk shouldn’t be taken as the last word on why every red-blooded American should own a gun. After all, what do scientists know that the NRA doesn’t know, right?

I still don’t understand why the gun-control community continues to twist itself in knots to avoid saying what needs to be said, which is the way you reduce a risk to health is to get rid of the risk. Or should we try to reduce the health risks from contaminated water by telling everyone to buy bottled water at Costco and stay away from the tap?

Maybe that’s what we should be telling those poor bastards who drank poisoned water at Camp LeJeune.

I hate to break it to some of my public health or medical friends, but there’s no way you can make a Glock ‘safe.’ Gaston Glock didn’t design his gun to be ‘safe.’ He designed his gun to be used to end human life. That’s the only reason for anyone to buy, own and walk around with a Glock or another similar type of gun. Cops? Yep. Everyone else? Nope.

Would it hurt Mike Bloomberg’s bank account to fund a gun buyback in all 50 states? He can be reached at mike@mikebloomberg.com.

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