Sunday, June 5, 2022

Tackling a Tough and Sensitive Problem

dressing the carnage being caused in this country by fire-arms had become a pressing social issue. 

The problem is that people are looking at only a portion of the problem and that, many times, is through a partisan political lens that imposes biases upon a solution. It is time to throw off the chains of partisan politics and work together to make a meaningful impact on the problem. 

Is there a problem? A correspondence in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) reported:

The previous analysis, which examined data through 2016, showed that firearm-related injuries were second only to motor vehicle crashes (both traffic-related and nontraffic-related) as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents, defined as persons 1 to 19 years of age.4 Since 2016, that gap has narrowed, and in 2020, firearm-related injuries became the leading cause of death in that age group. From 2019 to 2020, the relative increase in the rate of firearm-related deaths of all types (suicide, homicide, unintentional, and undetermined) among children and adolescents was 29.5% — more than twice as high as the relative increase in the general population. (Highlighting added)

Let me restate what was reported in the NEJM: the leading cause of death among children and adolescents (persons aged 1-19 years) since 2020 is fire-arm related.

So let's agree, there is a problem.

I believe there are three things, which would not violate the Second Amendment of the Constitution, that can be done to reduce the fire-arms related deaths in America. Restrictions that have legally been placed upon Constitutional rights in the past an--for instance it is unlawful to use our Free Speech right and yell fire in a theater, therefore, it is permissible to ensure our freedoms are practiced in a socially responsible manner. 

So, what do I think we as a country can begin to do?

Step 1

Increase funding for mental health services focused upon the adolescent age group. This includes increasing  access to Mental Health treatment in schools to both identify and assist troubled students--those who both desire to kill others or those who might do harm to themselves. We need to dedicate resources to creatively help this age group while also removing the stigma associated with receiving mental health care.

Step 2

Why can anyone buy large amounts of ammunition? Why can teenagers buy large amounts of ammunition designed only to kill people because it is used in assault weapons? Fix this. Significantly increase taxes on assault weapon ammunition and limit the number of rounds that can be purchased. Also, establish 21 years old the minimum age limit to purchase ammunition used in assault weapons. The drinking age and the age to buy cigarettes in 21, why are youths allowed to purchase ammunition which is designed to be used in weapons designed only to kill people? I would advocate that shotgun ammunition and .22 caliber ammunition still be available to younger people for target and sport activities. Ammunition purchases should be entered into a federal database much as purchasing some decongestant over-the-counter drugs are tracked.

Step 3

Create and enforce limits on the purchase of weapons. All weapons! The limits should include a waiting period, a background check, and a minimum age to purchase (perhaps 21), but not possess fire-arms. In parts of this country fire-arms are used for protection in wilderness and open areas and by youthful hunters. Weapons designed for hunting game or self-protection should be allowed for younger persons, but they should not be able to possess assault fire-arms, nor should they be able to purchase weapons. 

Something must be done. We must not abridge rights granted to us by the Constitution, but we can ensure that the Right to Bear Arms is accomplished in a socially responsible manner in order to stop the carnage and help protect those members of our society that are unable to protect themselves. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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