The most recent figures available are from 2009, but it is doubtful that the trend has significantly reversed in three years. Arizona is on the list, and that prompted State Senator Frank Antenori, of Tucson of all places, to criticize the report as an “apple-and-orange” comparison. He went on to say that most gun deaths are not accidental. Irony is a concept totally lost on conservatives. Antenori added, “Do you use a care in self-defense?” Did he know for certain that the gun deaths were self-defense?
The report was prepared by the Violence Policy Center. The inglorious ten are: Alaska, 104 gun to 84 traffic; Arizona, 856 to 809; Colorado, 583 to 565; Indiana, 735 to 715; Michigan, 1,095 to 977; Nevada, 406 to 255; Oregon, 417 to 394; Utah, 260 to 256; Virginia, 836 to 827; and Washington 623 to 580.
The point of the report was not to advocate greater gun control, but to advocate greater public education, which the authors credit with the reduction in traffic deaths. We all know that seat belt laws aren’t really enforceable, but seat belt education has increased use which has led to a reduction in traffic deaths. These gun deaths include accidental shootings, children shooting each other because guns weren’t properly secured in a home, shootings fueled by a cultural emphasis on violent reaction to perceived personal affront, gang shootings and the culture of gangs. These are the areas where education and intervention can reap benefits. They do not curtail anyone’s rights.
Antenori’s response to the report is typical of the knee-jerk reaction that gun advocates have about anything that calls attention to the appallingly high level of murders in this nation. In the minds of people like Antenori, we must defend to our last breath the right of ten-year-olds to blow huge holes in their siblings’ heads. It is anathema to them that we should take any steps to reduce the Wild West culture of America and teach better ways to live. But we have reduced accidental traffic deaths through education and changes in the culture without limiting anyone’s right to drive or own a car. There is not reason we cannot do the same with guns.