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Doctor's In: Gun Deaths Underplayed by Media and Politicians

Gun control and adequate resources for mental health are critical for significantly reducing gun tragedies.

Reports of 11,101 annual gun deaths refer to homicides. Included in those deaths are the “Horrifics” like Newtown, or the Aurora movie theater. However, this vastly misrepresents the total number of deaths in gun-related incidents. 

In 2011 there were a total of 31,940 people killed by guns.Homicides represented 11,101, suicides represented 19,766, gun accidents caused 851 deaths, and 222 deaths were of undetermined cause. These sobering statistics suggest that guns are simply too dangerous in the hands of the untrained, depressed, seriously mentally ill, and criminals.

Arguments against sensible gun control ring hollow when looking at the death data.When I served in the Army, no soldier got close to a weapon without appropriate classroom training in gun safety and the mechanics of the weapons.  After such training we were given our arms and spent hours taking them apart, cleaning them and putting them back together with additional safety training. 

At the firing range, the Sergeant initially gave us one bullet at a time to discharge at the target. When he was satisfied that we operated our weapon safely, he gave is one clip.  I trained on the Garand M1 rifle.  After firing the weapon on the shooting range the guns were locked up. Nobody kept a weapon in his possession except during weapons training. No soldier faced the enemy without comprehensive training on any weapon he would use including pistols, rifles, machine guns, surface to air missiles and so forth.

Again, I state firmly, no one should be able to purchase any firearm without an extensive background check. No one should be able to purchase a firearm without gun safety training. Firearms should only be purchased from authorized gun dealers. Every firearm should be registered. No clip should hold more than seven rounds, and military style weapons should be banned from the public.

Mental health needs of residents must be addressed.The refunding,and reopening of a comprehensive network of state mental health hospitals and evaluation centers will accomplish much to reduce the number of dangerously mentally ill that walk our streets today. Assuring medications and outpatient mental health services to the less seriously ill will curb sociopathic behavior responsible for terrible incidents that have become too common in America.

Should no appropriate actions be forthcoming from congress to address sensible gun control and the critical funding for mental health services, rest assured more tragedies will occur. There have already been incidents costing lives since the Newtown tragedy. Ninety U.S. residents die each day from gun incidents.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mary in LOL February 25, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Forgot the url: http://oathkeepers.org/oath/2013/02/23/all-67-florida-county-sheriffs-sign-pledge-to-protect-the-right-of-citizens-to-bear-arms/
JD Adams March 21, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Dr. Yacht, Your comments are not factual regarding guns and safety. Chicago has among the strictest gun controls in the US. Chicago also ranks highest in homicides by gun (more gang related gun homicides than deaths of US soldiers in Afghanistan), all homicides being crime/gang related. Outside the US, Australia has outlawed gun ownership and violent crime has gone UP annually. Guns don't kill people, People kill people. Mary has hit this dead center and I agree with her and the doctor she mentions. Lastly, homicides involving guns in the US have decreased by 15% through 2012... without further gun control. Now I will quote what a police officer in Phoenix AZ told me. "We do NOT go into certain areas after dark. We lets the gangs have them (those areas)". They are afraid of getting shot, so instead they have classified motorcyclists as "gangs" and target and profile bikers, leaving the city streets to the REAL gangs, the ones they are afraid of. It's a much nicer evening for the cop to pull over a biker and obtain his "gang" quota or sit at a DUI checkpoint and claim he's keeping the city safe while allowing the real gangs to have their way at night. All of this is of course financially motivated since the cities receive block grants in the millions to conduct these "exercises" to "protect us".
JD Adams March 21, 2013 at 09:28 PM
Why not concentrate, for one time, on the broken mental health care system. Though I will disagree with you on that as well, since there first must be a "system" for it to be broken. Mental health care in this country is almost non existent. Insurance does not cover it. Politicians ignore it. Funding for mental health was decreased by billions under the new "affordable healthcare law". Everyone, yourself included, says "fix it". And then you re-elect the same to parties and politicians who continue to do nothing. Go figure. But don't blame guns or gun owners for the lack of mental health care facilities and treatment in this nation. Blame yourselves.
Marc J. Yacht MD, MPH March 21, 2013 at 09:42 PM
What is interesting is those sheriff's are refusing to pass potential laws that they swear to uphold. Add to that the increased risk for the patrolmen they should be protecting when refusing to address ending military style weapons with high capacity magazines in the hands of killers and the insane. I look forward to the first police chief being removed from office for refusing to obey the law. Also I congratulate the Governor of Colorado for signing the gun bill and standing up to the irrational arguments to allow a gun crazy country to face a start for rational gun policy. I might add, thank you for keeping this blog alive. Good to hear from you Mary.
Marc J. Yacht MD, MPH March 21, 2013 at 10:19 PM
As for Sheriff Nocco, who I have a lot of respect for; he has been an excellent sheriff and followed Bob White who I had occassion to work with when I was health officer. He also was a favorite and wore his badge honorably. Unfortunately, politics often get's in the way of their efforts. If a law were passed by the Florida legislature (unlikely) or the county to address sensible gun control, I am sure Nocco would enforce those laws. However, he needs to be reelected so he plays to constituents like you and others who stand firm against any rational gun policy. Pasco Commissioners would not even allow rational discussion at a meeting. They canceled the item on the agenda. Not a proud moment for them. A flag waving Jack Mariano wanted a vote to support the constitution. Go Jack!!! However, the wall is cracking and Colorado and other states are moving legislation through. Gun-nuts should fear another Newtown-like tragedy and it will happen without sensible enforced laws. Harry Reid is between a rock and a hard place pushing gun policy but something will come out of the senate and that is good. I am not against guns; I have them. I am against the irrational defense against sensible gun law. I have stated those recommendations in the blog.

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