Updated: Dec 3, 2019
We often hear these days about the "epidemic" of mass shootings in our country.
With some skillful media talking points, we're also often led to believe that this "epidemic" is directly related to the nation's high population of legal gun owners, Second Amendment advocates, and members of the NRA.
Of course, this is garbage.
Law-abiding gun owners are, for the most part, some of the most, well, law-abiding people in the country.
Not one mass shooting in history has been committed by a member of the NRA. Literally zero. And my home town of San Francisco's recent designation of the NRA as a terrorist organization was so insanely dumb, that even the left-leaning Washington Post rebuked them for it.
There are many, many misconceptions about gun violence in the United States, most of which come out on full display in the wake of one of the horrific massacres we've sadly gotten so used to seeing dominating the news cycle over the last few years.
One misconception I take particular issue with, and that is the so-called "epidemic" of gun violence in our nation which is always erroneously linked to legal gun ownership when in reality, our nation is facing down a few crippling, multi-faceted health crises that are far, far more troubling.
And while mass shootings, high-profile or otherwise, are grievous, heinous crimes and worthy of our attention, we're not discussing the things that are killing far more Americans with anywhere near the urgency or emotionalism that we do mass shootings.
So, let's examine the three massive public health crises killing Americans at rates that far outweigh deaths from mass shootings.
Earlier this month, Breitbart News explained:
Fifty-three people were reportedly killed by mass shootings in America in August while 40,000 were killed by obesity during that same month.
The UK Sun reported the mass shooting deaths vs. obesity deaths, showing the media is fixated on gun violence reporting although other causes are death are exponentially higher.
They quote HBO’s Bill Maher saying, “In August, 53 Americans died from mass shootings. Terrible, right? Do you know how many died from obesity? Forty-thousand.”
Yet the Democrats want to ban commonly owned semiautomatic rifles with Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, in particular, saying, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.”
The claim of 53 deaths from mass shootings appears to come from a New York Times story based on Shooting Tracker information. The number appears to be highly inflated as numerous Shooting Tracker mass shootings involve one death. Yet the figure is insightful in that even if reported at the inflated level, it is completely eclipsed by deaths due to obesity.
Now, let me stop right here — no, I absolutely do not support regulating high-calorie foods just because of this health epidemic.
There are a great many reasons that obesity is quite literally of epidemic proportions in our country, and it is troubling. Look around — odds are you know and see daily many, many people who are overweight and have health issues that are either caused or exacerbated by their weight.
As much as I love good, old-fashioned American capitalism, our food system is a monster, and at the risk of getting down a serious rabbit hole here, let me just say that the foods we consume that are widely and easily available at a very cheap cost and hardly regulated at all are most certainly contributing to obesity and a wide variety of other health issues.
The fact is, there is hardly a push to regulate any of this as there is to regulate private gun ownership. Nearly 40,000 people die from all firearm-related injuries annually, including suicide (more on that in a minute), accidents, and situations involving law enforcement. So shouldn't these issues be at the very least equally important?
According to CDC data, Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl surged from around 29,000 in 2017 to more than 32,000 in 2018. Fentanyl overdose deaths made up about 40% of drug-related overdoses in 2016 according to HHS data, out of a total over 42,000 opioid-related deaths for that year. Yes, that's more than all firearm-related deaths by almost 13,000.
I've watched from afar as my aforementioned home town's own homelessness crisis rages, in large part thanks to this opioid crisis, which the city is enabling by offering safe-injection sites and lenient policies.
Compared to mass shootings specifically, this is a flooring 3,500 deaths per month compared to August 2019's 53 deaths from mass shooters.
Equally chilling, what the gun control conversation rarely touches on, is that a stunning 61% of gun deaths are due to suicide, a heartbreaking statistic which even the rabidly anti-gun, notoriously deceptive Every Town admits.
This is a 19,392 annually based on 2010's overall numbers, which breaks down to 1,491 a month, of firearm-related suicides alone.
Let that sink in. For the 53 victims of mass shootings in August of 2019... roughly 1,491 Americans a month taking their own lives with a firearm.
According to CDC data, suicide is the second-leading cause of death from people aged 10-34. Second!
47,173 Americans took their own lives in 2017.
I do not point out how these numbers compare to mass shootings to minimize mass shootings, but rather to explain them.
All around us, Americans are over-eating to the point of perpetual illness and death, Americans are hooked on highly-addictive, cheap, synthetic drugs to the point of complete incapacitation and death, and Americans are living in so much despair, they are taking their own lives.
Are any of these things caused by an armed populace, in a nation that has had an armed populace for three centuries and yet these three phenomena are distinctly recent ones?
Not in the least.
This is a heart problem. This is a soul problem. This is a moral problem. This is a spiritual problem.
Our nation is sick and suffering, friends. This is the epidemic that needs our primary attention. We cannot have honest conversations about how to end mass shootings and gun violence without first addressing these devastating health crises, and doing so in a manner that is much deeper than facts and figures.