Throughout the pandemic, many of us discovered the joy of kneading bread dough, or binge-watching a television show we missed during hours of working overtime, weekends. But not all of us. A sizable portion of the US population bought guns.
How many? you might ask. Millions. In fact, 18.8 million guns were purchased in 2021 alone, according to The Trace, a publication that investigates American gun violence. Enough guns that the United States averages more than three guns per person. This statistic includes 11.3 million handguns and 7.5 million long guns purchased in 2021, not including those purchased illegally. As extreme as these numbers sound, 2021 was not the highest year for gun sales.
Why do Americans need so many guns?
The answer depends upon whom you ask. Between January 2019 and April 2021, an estimated 17 million homeowners added firearms to a home where there was not one before, The Trace reports. To me, this is a very frightening fact.
Was this because of the changing political climate in the United States? Was it because of fears over global issues, including geopolitical upheaval and potential food insecurity? Climate disasters? Possible racial tension? All of the above?
If these concerns drive US citizens to purchase guns, how do we explain the fact that our country is such an outlier compared with Yemen, Serbia, Montenegro, which possess nowhere near the amount of private guns as our citizens but also experience political turbulence?
People talk about mental health services as an answer to the ever-increasing homicides, suicides, mass shootings that pervade our culture. Mental health services are scant in this country, both inpatient and outpatient, as any emergency room nurse could tell us.
As an example, Texas Gov Greg Abbott discussed the importance of mental health services during a press conference following the recent mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, but he failed to mention cuts to a program that oversees those same services. He slashed $211 million from the program in April, a pivotal decision that may impact the very services that he mentioned were vital to reducing gun violence. Why?
I also hear that the only thing that will stop "bad guys with guns is a good guy with guns," but this is not true. The Trace reports that nearly 70% of all annual gun deaths in this country are suicides, young people (good guys) who have used a firearm to end their lives. How does the "good guy scenario" work for this, when a 10-year-old child has taken the household firearm to blow out his brains, not yet understanding the concept of death? Where oh where is the "good guy" to comfort the parents when their beautiful child is gone forever?
The United States has the highest firearm suicide rate of any country on this planet, The Trace states. I do not and cannot believe that we need so many firearms for protection, or because it is our right. The Second Amendment is not an absolute.
I used to pick up prescriptions and sit under the boughs of a gorgeous maple tree, enjoying the sun and solitude for a rare moment. However, a woman was violently killed there, bleeding out from a gunshot wound to the abdomen, sitting in her vehicle in the exact same location. I am afraid now, worried that the location is no longer safe.
Is any location secure? Gun violence has sullied our schools, churches, and hospitals. Where will we find consolation and a moment of peace? Are we safe anywhere in this country? Will children be safe? Have we politicized their future?
It is not good vs bad guys with guns. It is not mental health services when we are quick to defund those services. We have too many guys (and girls) with guns, period. We are buying and keeping too many firearms!
We need rational, intelligent plans for change.
As John Fitzgerald Kennedy once stated, "God's work on earth must truly be our own." Please, God, let us not waste more time.
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Cite this: Diane M. Goodman. Forget Good Guys vs Bad Guys: We Have Too Many Guys With Guns! - Medscape - Jun 15, 2022.