Jonathan Crimmins

Jonathan Crimmins

It has been a little more than a week since we were all stunned with the worst mass shooting in American history. We have been given few answers as to motive or causation, however that has not stopped the most opportunistic among us from making all sorts of demands. What should be legal, what should be made illegal. There is no shortage. What has been lacking in most of the discourse is a real, hard look at why these Americans met an untimely demise.

Are guns a problem in Maine and in the United States? In the hands of a severely mentally ill individual bent on mayhem? Yes. In the hands of the millions of rational gun owners? No, they are not.

Maine has relatively few firearm related homicides per year. In comparison, there were roughly 12,000 firearms related homicides in the country last year. More than one fifth of that number came from the top ten U.S. cities in population. Chicago, the nation’s leader in gun deaths, tallied 766 deaths last year alone. That is 13 Las Vegas style shootings in one year. Except for a couple of writers and a newspaper, few outside of the Windy City paid much attention to it.

It is the intentions of the people holding the weapon that are problematic. No added device or interchangeable part of a gun causes a shooting. Just in the same way that changing a part on a car causes the vehicle to be any more dangerous than the original parts.

Realizing this little fact makes our lives a little less comfortable. It is easy to blame something that we have little experience with than to accept that our world is full of dangerous things. The most dangerous in most cases is what is in someone’s heart. Believing that it is a scary item and not the thoughts of an individual that are responsible for death and destruction insulates us.

What if the greater threat here in Maine were things we take for granted? Things we have around us every day?

Last year Maine reached a milestone of sorts. A milestone that we would rather not have set, but nonetheless we did it. In Maine 378 people died last year as a result of drug overdoses. More than six Las Vegas shootings, as a frame of reference, took place in Maine and nearly no one batted an eye.

As a comparison look at traffic deaths in the United States. In 2013 there were more than 32,000 fatalities on the roads of this nation. Nearly 1 and a half Las Vegas shootings per day on the nation’s highways, byways and roadways. How many of those deaths are blamed on the automobiles that are involved in the crash? I am going to guess relatively few. How many of those deaths are blamed on one of the operators of the vehicles? I would guess that a vast majority are blamed on an operator.

Locally, we had a recent tragic accident where a person died as a result of driving the wrong way on the highway and impacting an overpass abutment. Was it the vehicle that drove itself the wrong way and caused the accident? Was it the car that acted independently? The answer to both questions is no. Why then the double standard when it comes to something inanimate, like a gun, that looks scary and ominous?

Even more scary is the research on medical errors and the deaths associated with them. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reported last year that the real number of patients who die as a result medical errors is approximately 251,000 people in the United States. 251,000 people equates to nearly 700 people per day who die at the hands of medical professionals. That is akin to almost 12 Las Vegas shootings every single day in the U.S. That is 12 today and 12 tomorrow and so on.

None of these regularly make the news and no one stops going to their doctor because of the chance that they could be the next victim.

It is time to condemn the act. It is time to condemn the actor carrying out the crime. It is time to condemn the mindset of someone who believes that to act in such a fashion is acceptable. It is time that we decide to be on the lookout for that one person meaning to do us harm and not live in fear of inanimate objects.

That’s my two cents…

Jonathan Crimmins can be reached at j_ [email protected]

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