Shooting deaths cost every family

Published 3:23 pm Saturday, July 28, 2012

Every tragedy contains the odd mixture of indescribable anguish as well as a catalyst for change. We all have been touched by the pain and sorrow of the victims of the Aurora shootings, who are America’s latest casualties that are the price we pay for freedoms granted by our constitution to own guns.

Our president reflected the heart of the whole nation with his remarks that “words are always inadequate” to explain our grief or to comfort the afflicted during these times.

Yet it is a grave reminder that at a rate of 85 shooting deaths per day, we experience 47 Aurora tragedies every week in the United States. At approximately 30,000 gun deaths per year, we lose more citizens to gunfire every two years than died in the entire Vietnam War. The bloodshed within our borders largely outnumbers the loss of life experienced by our soldiers in any wartime effort.

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I suppose tragedies like those in Aurora capture our attention because so many innocent are dying in one place, or that it is one person who is doing all the killing. Yet just because the 12-14 people who die every four hours in the United States from gunshots are fired by different killers doesn’t mean the tragedy is any less painful for those victims and their families.

The cost to our citizens goes way beyond the loss of life, as emergency room visits and medical treatment related to firearm shootings exceeds $200 billion a year, roughly $2,400 for every family of four in America. If we could get on top of these assaults we make on ourselves, the resulting savings could reduce our national debt by $2 trillion over the next 10 years alone.

I know that our constitution protects our right to own firearms. Yet, I wonder at what point we might decide that, like our individual freedom to run red lights or drive drunk, our lust for guns might be subordinated to the rights of more than six dozen Americans per day to live.

David Larson

Albert Lea