Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times opinion piece offered so much more than this single meme. But despite the depth of conversation he attempted to foster, the numbers that he quoted in the meme should haunt America until we do something about it.
“In America, more preschoolers are shot dead each year (82 in 2013) than police officers are in the line of duty (27 in 2013).”
This doesn’t mean that it is more dangerous to be a preschooler in America than it is to be a police officer. The data does not indicate that. The raw numbers, however, still reveal an unbelievable reality about the threat that guns pose to our children. This reality should cause everyone to pause and think about how utterly ridiculous these debates are after yet another tragedy.
Everyone I’ve shared this with had the same initial reaction: these number are inflated because of the Sandy Hook Elementary school tragedy. No. This does not include Sandy Hook because the Newtown tragedy occurred the year prior in 2012.
Admittedly, these numbers include preschoolers killed both in school and outside of school, but the implication is still very terrifying. And when you add in the number of gun deaths across all age groups you have to wonder: how can we still be debating the same thing after each new tragedy?
When students are now practicing Active Shooter drills in elementary and middle school and when companies are manufacturing and selling bullet proof sleeping mats and backpacks, it is safe to say that we have lost our minds if we are still incapable of having a meaningful conversation on basic gun control. Not only are our lives in danger, the lives of our children are in danger. But this doesn’t move gun fanatics or extremists who demagogue on behalf of gun manufacturers.
But still, we live in the extremes that are fostered by false dichotomies. We live in America where anyone who suggests that we institute modest gun controls or universal background checks obviously must want to do away with the Second Amendment a grab our guns so they can institute a dictatorship.
And so long as we allow the conversation to be stifled by these extremes, nothing will be done to change the fact that our children are increasingly living in a war zone.
We believe more in the idea of guns and the faux-security that guns foster than we do the grim reality that our nation created with nearly one gun for every man, woman and child in the United States. And this unwarranted belief continues to expose our children to life-threatening dangers. Shame on us.
Featured Image Adapted from Screengrab