Tuesday, April 23, 2013

3,530 to 3

Trey Smith

On Sunday, in the post 14 to 3, I wondered out loud why the vast majority of the weekend's news coverage focused on a tragedy that resulted in 3 deaths, while a tragedy in a different part of the country in which 14 died senselessly was little more than an afterthought. As Pierre Tristam has highlighted, there exists an even wider discrepancy that somehow hasn't captured our leader's attention like the Boston Marathon bombings have.
In the four months since Sandy Hook, at least 3,530 Americans have been killed by firearm. That’s 500 more than died in the 9/11 attacks, and 1,300 more than the total number of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan in 12 years.
Almost as soon as the smoke had cleared from the bombs detonated in Boston, you could hear political leaders from both sides of the aisle talking about the importance of strengthening deterrent measures and passing legislation to curb terrorism. Yet, many of these very same political leaders couldn't muster the votes to pass even the most tepid gun control legislation! Why is it that we are so hellbent on finding ways to deter infrequent terrorist attacks, but we can't deter frequent deaths by guns?

While there is no question that so-called terrorist attacks are frightening to the general populace, they are few and far between. Yes, they may scar the national psyche, but few people are directly and personally impacted by such attacks. We have altered much of the way we go about life -- including severe limits placed on some forms of freedom -- in the name of safety and protection.

Death and serious injury by gun, on the other hand, are far more ubiquitous than terrorist attacks. Tens of thousands of Americans annually are directly and personally impacted by gun violence. Despite the fact that the average person in this nation stands a far greater chance of being shot by a non-terrorist, we have altered little about life in terms of safety and protection.

The why of this vast discrepancy goes back to the usual culprit: economics. The monied interests basically dictate what we will work to deter and what we won't. The fear of terrorism is a big moneymaker for the elite and so we focus on that. The sale of guns also is a big moneymaker for the elite and so we don't really focus on gun deterrence.

A modern adage is to follow the money. It certainly is true in this case.

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