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Troubling, deceptive dialogue on ‘gun violence’

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Seattle Times columnist Jerry Large is out today with an assessment of last Thursday’s Town Hall Seattle gathering in which “a judge and several doctors/researchers affiliated with Seattle Children’s, the University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center talked about protecting children from gun violence of all kinds,” but noticeably absent were any firearms experts.

Such discussion panel omissions are troubling to Second Amendment activists who might be willing to chat about violent crime, firearm safety and education, but have justifiable concerns that they will filibustered and/or demonized. The Town Hall Seattle event occurred almost simultaneously with a vigil for victims of "gun violence" at Washington National Cathedral on December 12, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Large, quoting pediatrician Dr. Fred Rivara, reported that since the Sandy Hook attack, “30,000 people have died of gun violence in the United States, 2,700 of them children.”

This quickly brought criticism from gun rights activists, who are responding to that assertion, that more of those deaths are suicides than homicides – as one might be led to believe when presented with a lump sum figure – and also that many of these “children” may be young gang thugs engaged in activities that carry a high risk of getting shot.

Buried down in the ninth paragraph of Large’s column is an acknowledgement from Dr. Rivara: “We think about accidental shootings, we think about homicides, but you have to understand that here in the state of Washington, 75 percent of gun deaths are suicides.”

This brings up a serious question: If suicide by firearm is somehow considered to be “gun violence,” what is suicide by lethal drugs? Maybe that should be called “pharmaceutical violence,” or, perhaps, “better dying through chemistry.” The end result is the same, unless one can explain that a person is less dead from a lethal prescription than a lethal projectile.

Washington is one of four states where assisted suicide is legal. The process for taking one’s own life – dubbed “death with dignity” – is somewhat cumbersome and one might get the impression that at least some people do not care for all the red tape. They just want to check out, and perhaps for them, the real dignity is being able to pick the time to do it without having to deal with the bureaucracy.

Dr. Beth Ebel from Harborview referred to an incident in China last year about the same time as Sandy Hook, in which a nut attacked children and an adult woman at an elementary school in Chengping, injuring all of them but killing nobody. According to Large, “Knives and bare hands can kill, but not nearly so easily as guns.”

Perhaps Large hasn’t seen the most recent homicide data from the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2012. It reveals that – apparently from the 30,000 “victims of gun violence” – there were 12,765 murders. Of those, 8,855 were killed with firearms. This figure includes 322 killed with rifles and 303 slain with shotguns for a sub-total of 625 victims.

The figure also includes 674 who were killed with “personal weapons” (hands, fists, feet, etc.), a number that exceeds those killed with rifles and shotguns combined. There were roughly two and one-half times the number of people killed last year with knives or cutting instruments as there were shotgun/rifle victims: 1,589.

Perhaps at some point, gun control proponents will stop considering every firearm fatality to be a “gun violence” victim. Meanwhile, the use of all gunshot-related deaths to define “gun violence” is one of the many things that discourage gun rights activists from joining in any alleged “meaningful dialogue.”

After all, if the cornerstone figure that gun prohibitionists throw around is deceptive from the get-go, just how “meaningful” can anything else they say really be?

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