Wayne's Words: Gun violence is more than guns

Wayne Horne | 2/21/2018, 1:37 p.m.
Just five years ago, in December of 2012, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred. According to reports at the ...

Just five years ago, in December of 2012, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred. According to reports at the time, the incident was the deadliest mass shooting at either a high school or grade school in U.S. history and the fourth-deadliest mass shooting by a single person in U.S. history.

Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members. Prior to driving to the school, he shot and killed his mother at their Newtown home. As first responders arrived at the scene, Lanza committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. A weapon similar to the AR-15 was used in the killing of school children.

The AR-15 is the civilian equivalent to the M-16 used by combat troops in Vietnam more than 50 years ago. It is one of the most efficient killing weapons in the world.

On January 10, 2013, I wrote a column that focused on the Consolidated Election being conducted in Joliet that April. The primary focus of that column was to relate how many of the then incumbent City Council members lived in the same general vicinity of each other. The situation has changed through the three council elections held since then. But as is often the case with the column, there was “One last thing…”

Here’s what it said: “According to the Center for Disease Control, America had more than 11,000 firearms related homicides in 2011. Even more staggering is the fact there were 19,000 suicides committed by firearms that same year. The firearm-suicide rate for U.S. children is 10 times greater than that of all other nations combined. Most of those suicides were from firearms kept in the home for protection. More U.S children are killed by guns in the home than guns kill children of all other nations combined including those at war.”

Change is inevitable and just like the Joliet City Council configuration changed so have the statistics for gun violence. They ‘ve gone up in numbers. In only five years deaths due to gun violence have increased by over nine per cent. In 2017, according to resources such as the CDC and others, all gun deaths recorded totaled 38,658. Suicides alone accounted for 22,938. Less than one per cent of all gun deaths in the last five years were unintentional.

The shooting last Wednesday in a Florida high school continues the trend of increased gun violence. There are many who believe these types of killings are inevitable in a free society. There are at least four democratic countries in the world that are changing that dynamic. They are Australia, Japan, Norway and the United Kingdom.

Australia paid their citizens to sell their guns to the government. In Japan if you want to own a gun you must attend an all-day class, pass a written test, and achieve at least a 95 percent accuracy during a shooting range test. Norway depends on the power of social cohesion and trust between the government and its citizens. The UK relies on a multitude regulations and gun buybacks to achieve a low 50 to 60-gun deaths per year.

We can be proud of the many students that reacted during the shooting by taking cover and helping fellow students take cover and/or finding escape routes away from the shooting. That’s the recommended course of action. I have yet to hear a single student or faculty member say the answer is more guns. No one has said they will feel safer if they or school personnel start packing weapons. There have been very few who think the answer is to put armed guards on the school premises. Quite the contrary. Students, parents and others are demonstrating around the country for a decrease in the number of guns, as well as stricter regulations for gun ownership.

For those who read this column that believe the answer to gun violence is more guns, please find a more productive way to come to grips with the issue. For those who wish to vent on the words in this column by sending a response your comments welcomed. They will be published so all can know your ideas.

Stay tuned…