It is heartbreaking and horrendously frustrating to know that we live in a nation where every year, more preschoolers – children under the age of 5 – are killed by guns than police officers die in the line of duty- and yet we still refuse to do anything about it. Politifact has rated New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff’s assertion that “in America, more preschoolers are shot dead each year (82 in 2013) than police officers are in the line of duty (27 in 2013), according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI” as Mostly True. The “mostly true” comes from whether you define “preschool child” as between the ages of 0-4 or 3-5, a debate that is naught but useless semantics when you consider the gravity of the epidemic we face.
The obvious conclusion we can draw from this data is that you’re more likely to be killed in a preschool than working the streets as a cop. MSNBC reports that 10,000 children of all ages are killed or injured by gunfire every year, but that’s not the worst of it. It is a haunting statistic, especially after we were forced to read the stories of two separate incidents of young children using their parents’ weapons to murder other children this week.
While every police officer that dies in the line of duty is a tragedy, they made the conscious decision to put their lives in danger in service of their community. The fact that we lose more of our children to gun violence than the people whose job it is to stop gun violence should be a gigantic wake-up call for our nation. In addition, it proves that the right-wing’s “war on police” rhetoric is entirely false. Cops are safer today than ever before– but somehow our children are in greater danger than ever before.
It is far beyond time we stopped pandering to the NRA and stopped allowing the Republican Party to keep perpetuating these disgusting narratives which somehow blame the victim for being murdered. It’s time for us to resoundingly reject the absurd delusions that the right-wing keeps spewing about “good guys with a gun” – just today, presidential candidate, neurosurgeon and dangerous ignoramus Ben Carson implied that the victims in the Oregon shooting let themselves die, and that he would have charged the shooter in some absurd bravado that would certainly ended in his death.
It’s been proven both scientifically and anecdotally by combat veterans that civilians with weapons are much more likely to cause harm to themselves or others. What will it take for our nation to accept the statistically proven facts and admit we have a problem? The American people have proved time and time again that we are not responsible enough to own as many dangerous firearms as we currently do, and we need to act on this now. Our failure to respond to this crisis means the blood of those children is on all of our hands.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.