The Nicholas Kristof column referring to the 2-year-old shooting his mother ends with, "Something is amiss...."
Something is much worse than amiss with the people we elect to Congress and state legislatures, and with many in the general population.
The Centers for Disease Control's 2013 data show that an average of 323 people were shot every day in this country, 92 fatally. Every month, more are killed by gunshot here than the total U.S. military personnel killed in the 13-plus years of war in Afghanistan.
Under present laws and levels of enforcement, guns are legally available to just about anybody from preschool children to illegal drug dealers, gang members, habitual criminals, domestic abusers, severely mentally distressed people who may be a danger to themselves or others, and prison escapees.
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The NRA/gun manufacturers/gun dealers complex has played upon irrational fears, deceitful data use, patriotic mythology and adolescent male emotionalism to create a fantasy view of the value of easy access to guns.
They always talk about gun rights and self-defense but never about how to prevent frequent misuse of guns by ordinary citizens. Here are basic points that need to be recognized for creating a rational public policy:
1. Guns are designed to be used for destructive acts.
2. Everyone who has access to a gun and is old enough to understand the power of a gun is planning to kill someone if the "right" circumstances arise.
3. Most people who have access to guns have never been screened or trained to safely use the destructive power of guns, and especially have not been trained how to decide when to shoot another person.
4. The result of the first three points is that almost all gunshot injuries and deaths are caused by law-abiding citizens misusing guns.
The most frequent fatality caused by gun use is suicide. Nationally about 60 percent of gunshot deaths are suicides; in Kentucky it's about 70 percent, according to the CDC and National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Also, most murders happen between two persons with a close association. Unlimited access to guns makes it easy for a conflict to become deadly.
When Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul respond to letters urging logical gun access restrictions they just talk about rights and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. They never say one word, nor have ever taken any action, to prevent the kinds of misuse of guns by law-abiding citizens that account for almost all gunshot damage. Likewise, Rep. Andy Barr's response to contacts is to make vague representations about doing something to reduce gun injuries and deaths, but he has accomplished nothing.
What is more than amiss is that the unlimited-access-to-guns complex has so intimidated our elected officials that they are not following the U.S. Constitution's goal to "promote the general welfare."