Bang! You’re Dead!
We don’t normally get the full story of gun violence in America. We only get the mass shootings, like the most recent one at that Seattle campus. But there’s a more far-reaching tragedy that’s ignored by the mainstream media.
I’m indebted to Internet sites like the Daily Kos for keeping me up to date on the day-to-day bloodshed triggered by America’s love affair with firearms. Here’s how the Daily Kos begins its report for the week ending on Wednesday:
Another week has come and gone, and once again we’re looking at something in the neighborhood of 40 reported GunFAIL incidents, 15 people who accidentally shot themselves, four home invasion shootings, nine child victims (including an 18-month-old who’s the youngest victim of the year, to date), six law enforcement officer-involved GunFAILs, etc., etc., etc.
The list of tragedies across the country is far too long to reproduce here. It includes an incident that occurred just down the road from our home in Florida. The incident involved two Hispanic men who got into an argument during a beer drinking session. One thing led to another and one of the men was shot to death. The shooting was ruled accidental and no charges were filed.
I don’t recall reading about it in the local press. It might be because I don’t read the newspaper as faithfully as I used to, or it could be that this kind of incident is no longer news.
I understand that newspapers in major American cities long ago started ignoring reports of a shooting in a black neighborhood. Perhaps an accidental shooting involving beer drinking Hispanics is now so commonplace that it isn’t worth a few inches of newspaper space?
Perhaps. But accidental shootings aren’t just an ethnic tragedy. They occur in all kinds of homes and all kinds of situations across America.
Back in the early 1980s, when I was features editor at the Clearwater Sun, I wrote a story titled “Living in Fear.” It recounted a rash of tragic shootings involving older residents. Feeling vulnerable, many local retirees had armed themselves and ended up accidentally shooting a loved one or themselves.
Law enforcement officials told me at the time that having a gun in your home is far more likely to be a danger to yourself or someone in your family than a protection against burglars.
I’m sure I am not the only one who has written this kind of story. But, for reasons that escape me, the vast majority of American readers are unimpressed. The guy who sprays our home for bugs, for example, was telling Sandra and me yesterday that he is licensed to carry a gun, and recounted a couple of episodes when he felt obliged to display the weapon.
At least he hasn’t shot anybody. Not yet.