Last week Vice President Dick Cheney reminded us that mistakes do happen (as if Iraq wasn't enough of a reminder) when he shot his friend while on a hunting expedition. The irony of a pro-gun advocate accidentally shooting his friend is priceless, but there is a deeper issue behind Cheney's hunting debacle. For years there has been a long-standing debate if guns kill people with the two main arguments being guns kill people or people kill people.
Quite frankly, to say that guns don't kill people is shortsighted and ignorant. Granted the person who shoots the gun is the one who pulls the trigger, but if this person did not have a gun, would they have been able to cause the same harm or inflict the same damage? And what about the thousands of deaths each year that are unintentional, such as when guns discharge? And can you imagine what Columbine would have been like if guns hadn't been involved? Needless to say, it wouldn't have been as traumatic as it was.
According to data from the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, every two years more Americans die from firearm injuries than the total number of American soldiers killed during the eight-year Vietnam War. In 1999, the total number of people killed by guns in the United States was 28,874, a 6 percent decrease from the 1998 figures when more than 30,000 people were killed by guns. Then in 2002, there were 30,242 gun deaths in the United States, an increase from the 1999 numbers. Can you honestly say that guns do not kill people?
With such staggering figures it is easy for people to assume that most gun deaths are gang related or otherwise unrelated to their everyday lives. Much like the environment, the gun problem is something people often overlook because they have an illusion that guns aren't a problem. However, gun deaths are a problem to people from all backgrounds and ages. In fact, guns kill many children each year.
According to the Children's Defense Fund and National Center for Health Statistics, in a single year 3,012 children and teens are killed by gunfire in the United States. This means there are more than 50 children killed every week, eight children killed every day and one child killed every three hours by guns.
Not only do guns kill people, but they kill an unfathomable amount of people. According to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, more than 80 Americans die from gun violence every day. That is more than three every hour, or about one every 20 minutes. Hypothetically speaking, if guns didn't exist, would this many people still die? I doubt it.
I understand many of these gun deaths are intentional and people often argue that intentional gun deaths do not prove that guns kill people because if someone wants to kill someone else, they will find a way to do so, with or without guns. Guns just make it that much easier.
To these people let me say that I agree guns make it easier to kill people and I understand certain murders and killings are unavoidable with or without guns because of people's pre-meditated intent and the overall weirdness of many in society. However, would there be the same number of murders and killings in America if guns did not exist? Would the same 30,000 people who die from guns each year die from something else? I'm not suggesting we eliminate all guns from the world (because I am not naive – although we should improve current gun control laws), but I am trying to prove that guns do kill people.
I apologize for bombarding you with statistics, but I don't know how else to prove that GUNS KILL PEOPLE. To reject this is to reject a critical mind because any person with even the slightest logic and intelligence will understand that irrevocably and undoubtedly, guns kill people. Before we remedy the gun problem, we must first acknowledge it.
Tim Waddingham is a senior, double-majoring in Political Science and Speech Communication. His column runs every Wednesday.