COMMENTARY | When I pick up my friend’s kids, I dutifully strap the baby into his car seat, and her daughter buckles her seat belt through her booster. The car seat is anchored to steel rods specifically built into my car for this purpose.
My car has side air bags, though the baby’s seat has been safety-tested for side-impact. I buckle my own seat belt, as required by state law, and off we go.
When we get to their house, I feed them food that has met the FDA standards of testing. Their toys meet safety standards. The blinds in the house do not have looped cords, and I couldn’t give the 9-year-old Buckyballs — small, round magnets you can use to make shapes – even if I wanted to, as the risk of injury from swallowing them was deemed too great and they have since been taken from the market.
And yet more than 3,000 children per year die from guns.
This contrast struck me while reading an opinion piece by Eric Thomas from CBS Detroit. He offered this thought in the wake of the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School: “In America we care more about guns than we do children.”
We don’t care more about the cords on blinds than we do the risk of strangulation; we don’t care more about Buckyballs than we do risk of injury from swallowing them; we don’t care more about the cost of installing car seat anchors in vehicles than we do the risk of improperly-installed car seats.
But we do allow vast arsenals of weapons, troves and troves of guns whose sole purpose of existence is killing. And in the case of the weapon used by the Sandy Hook killer, killing as many as possible as quickly as possible.
It was only a matter time. In 1988, Laurie Dann, a deranged woman with no connection to the school, entered a classroom in Winnetka, Ill., and shot six children total, killing 8-year-old Nick Corwin. Then, it was unthinkable.
After it happens once, it’s not unthinkable anymore.
The big difference now is the weapons are much more efficient. Basically, we’ve made it easier to kill more children in more classrooms in less time. If Dann had had the same rifle the shooter used in Connecticut, with the 30-round magazines, Corwin wouldn’t be the only child whose loss we’d still be mourning now, 24 years later.
The arguments about “freedom” and guns are simply a subterfuge. As President Barack Obama said on Sunday at an interfaith vigil, “Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”
Why are the preventable deaths and injuries of children abhorrent when they come in the form of traffic accidents or blind cords or magnets, and yet, when they come from guns, they’re simply the cost of doing business?
Thomas is right. This country does love its guns more than its children. And it’s time for that to change.