Swimming Pools, Cars and Guns

I recently read an article about studies showing many people who understand the facts and science that underly certain issues still will not believe the facts if the facts contradict their personal beliefs. The Anti-Vaccination crowd is one example. Even though it is clear that vaccinations prevent many, many childhood diseases, the anti-vax people refuse to believe this fact. I think the same thinking, or lack of it, pervades the anti-gun people. Below are a few facts from the Center for Disease Control website:

  • From 2005-2009, there were an average of 3,533 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day. An additional 347 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.2
  • About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger.2 For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.1
  • More than 50% of drowning victims treated in emergency departments (EDs) require hospitalization or transfer for further care (compared with a hospitalization rate of about 6% for all unintentional injuries).1,2  These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state).3,4
  • Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. In 2009, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, more than 30% died from drowning.1,2  Among children ages 1 to 4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools.2 Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children 1-4 than any other cause except congenital anomalies (birth defects).1 Among those 1-14, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes.1

So, from the above information it is clear that two children die each day from drowning, mostly in a family swimming pool. Those who are lucky enough to survive, may not be so lucky because of the terrible after effects. The last point above indicates that the next greater killer of young people are "motor vehicle crashes".

There is, then, a proven record of the killing of innocent children through the negligent care and operation of the family swimming pool, followed closely motor vehicle crashes. Given the emotional reaction of the anti-gun people who demand an end to gun ownership in this country when "gun violence" (regardless of the type: suicide, gang shootings, robberies, holdups, drug gangs, etc.) is in the news, I used to wonder why the same uproar, or bigger, did not emerge with the reporting of all this deadly mayhem in our nation's swimming pools and on the roads.

Ban swimming pools? Not likely. Keep children out of motor vehicles. Fat chance...

I think the answer lies in the fact that most people who do not understand guns, were not raised in an environment in which guns are owned, cared for, respected and used responsibly, are unreasonably fearful of them. Gun = bad. Gun owner = potential evil person.

Rationality doesn't work when dealing with an anti-gun person. What I basically end up telling any that I have occasion to talk with is that gun ownership, and the right to carry, is a civil right and they have no business trying to take my civil rights away. It's their choice to exercise those rights or not. But, their ignorance and fear does not trump my civil rights.

Someone recently said that seeing someone change their minds in the midst of a discussion about beliefs or strongly held opinions was about as likely as seeing a supernova explode overhead. I believe this is true. I don't try to change minds about this any longer. I just point out that my Constitutional right to keep and bear arms is mine, I wore a Navy uniform for many years to support those rights, and I refuse to allow their fear and ignorance to take them away.

I know that there are many commentators and pro-gun writers who advise us not to use the Constitutional right argument, but I think they are wrong. You won't be able to change someone's made-up mind. Experience and a traumatic experience might, but your arguments won't. I think it is proper and effective to stand up for our civil rights and be publicly supportive of them, not to hide this fact because it won't change minds. I don't think it is my job to change minds about this but to support the maintenance and expansion of those rights. I hope you do too.