Follow by Email

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Gun Violence and Magical Thinking

Another day and another school shooting. What else can be said? I think the Economist's headline from today ("America Seems Unable to Solve a Scourge that Exists Nowhere Else: There is Nothing Surprising in this Article, Unfortunately") pretty much captures it all (see its graphic to the right). School shootings may not be a regular occurrence in the U.S., but they happen at a rate that one might expect to find in a Third World country and not in one of the most developed countries in the world.

Of course, schools aren't the only place in the U.S. where shootings take place. In fact, we have a mass shooting almost daily:
By the reckoning of the Gun Violence Archive, the killing in Florida was the country’s 1,607th mass shooting since Sandy Hook. In other words, America has had more than one mass shooting every day since then, costing 1,846 lives. (The database includes mass woundings in its count, which is why the numbers of mass shootings and killings are roughly even.)
Unfortunately, many of our politicians seem to have little motivation to address the problem. Some want to blame it on poor mental health, apparently arguing that Americans, on average, are not as mentally stable as are individuals from other countries. The data, however, simply don't support such a conclusion. Other developed countries with similar mental health levels have much lower rates of gun violence:
The toll of gun violence in other rich countries, with comparable health indicators, is negligible by comparison. America’s gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher than a group of 22 other developed countries, according to the American Journal of Medicine. This is mainly because America has so many more guns than those other countries. It has less than 5% of the world’s population and almost half of the world’s civilian-owned firearms.
25 times higher. That's stunning. It's alarming. It's scary (or, at least it should be). No doubt, some will argue that it's just another example of fake news, but just because we don't like a fact, doesn't mean that it's untrue. In fact, refusing to acknowledge that gun violence is an uniquely American problem strike's me, as someone else once remarked, as a way that some can continue to pretend that by doing nothing, somehow the problem will go away (never mind that such a strategy has yet to work). That, my friends, is magical thinking, and if you ask me, a sign of poor mental health.

No comments:

Post a Comment