So, now we have the 2nd installment from The New York Times, telling us what we need to know about the gun problem. In this case an article which says that gun deaths recently surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death of American children.
According to the authors of this piece, back in 2000, more than 30% of all childhood deaths were due to car accidents whereas less than 10% of childhood deaths were due to shootings. In 2020, for the first time the percentage of children killed by guns (19%) surpassed the percentage (18%) of kid’s deaths from cars.
I happen to think that comparing deaths from car accidents to deaths from guns is to make an argument which doesn’t have the slightest relationship to reality at all. Why do I say this? Because with a few, very rare exceptions, people who get killed in car accidents didn’t get into the car intending to commit any kind of injury to themselves or anyone else. But people who walk around with a Glock or some other gun have every intention of using that gun to injure themselves or someone else.
Now these gun-toting folks can tell themselves and everyone else that they are only carrying a gun for self-defense. But the World Health Organization doesn’t differentiate between violence which is ‘good’ and violence which is ‘bad.’ If someone picks up a gun, aims it at themselves or at someone whom they consider a threat, they are about to commit a violent act, or what Grandpa would call ‘prusht und prushit’ (read: and that’s that.)
You may not believe this, but the handguns which are used to kill and injure most of the 100,000+ Americans who are fatally or non-fatally injured from guns every year aren’t designed to be used for anything except killing human beings. Cars, on the other hand, are designed to get me or you from here to there. Comparing the accident rates from guns versus cars is to create an argument which borders on the absurd.
That being said, the research team breaks down child gun deaths in the usual way that gun deaths are always broken down: age, race, type of violence (homicide versus suicide) – whatever demographic data is sitting on the CDC website has been transposed into a series of illustrations courtesy of the art department of The New York Times.
Once the data on who gets killed by guns is analyzed, we find that African American children are far and away the racial group which is moist impacted by gun violence. Gee – what a surprise! Of course, the data is basically useless because what nobody in the gun-control research or advocacy community seems to be able to do is figure out how to get data on the individuals who commit gun violence against someone other than themselves.
And since gun homicides are now half of all intentional gun deaths, you would think that some effort would be made to figure out the identity of the shooters, not just the victims. After all, if the whole point of gun-violence research is to figure out strategies to reduce the violence, shouldn’t we want to know whose behavior needs to be addressed?
Except that’s not the motive behind public health gun research or articles in The New York Times which rely on such research. As far as I can tell, the motive which lies behind such research and the consequent publication of these media articles is to get published, get known, and maybe even get 30 seconds on CNN or MS-NBC.
I’m being cynical to prove a point. Which is that this article and the research behind it are so far away from having any connection to the reality of guns and gun ownership that to take such nonsense seriously is to fill your head with useless junk. And here’s the reason why.
This article refers to ‘children’ as covering everyone between birth and 18 years of age. How and why the author set those age parameters is never explained. Worse, by grouping the overall age span into 4 cohorts – 1-9, 10-13, 14-16, 17-18 – the article creates an impression about how guns both proliferate and are used which is simply not true.
First and foremost, the authors of this piece seem to be unaware of the fact that virtually all 50 states grant hunting licenses to individuals who less than 15 years old, In some states the minimum age to be able to walk around unsupervised with a loaded gun is fourteen, in other states, like my state, the hunting license is issued at fourteen and one-half years. And while no state allows kids of this age to own or buy a handgun, they can go hunting with a loaded handgun if their state allows residents to shoot Bambi using a gun with a barrel of less than 16 inches in length.
This raises the issue of what the word ‘child’ actually means. It happens to be a very subjective term which may mean one thing in medicine, something different in jurisprudence, something else when it comes to qualifying to drive, what kind of work can be performed or whether parents can enforce rules against their kids.
Not only does this article group its data into categories which may not prove anything at all, but the same use of arbitrary information appears when other experts are asked to explain their views on how guns are used. So, for example, a researcher at Boston University states that “people pick up guns because they feel unsafe, and that perpetuates cycles of violence.” Since people felt less safe during the Pandemic, these feelings only increased gun violence even more.
What about the kids and adults who picked up guns during the Pandemic to help them move illegal drugs? Over 150 people die every day from fentanyl overdoses and the U.S. has one-quarter of all annual drug deaths which occur everywhere. Think all those drugs are bought by people who stroll into their local CVS with some extra cash?
What we have here is an ‘explanation’ about gun violence which is based on what the authors would like their readers to believe, not what the authors actually learned about guns prior to writing this piece. In other words, this article isn’t reportage, it’s advocacy. And I thought The New York Times prints news.