“With approximately 30,000 men, women and children dying each year at the barrel of a gun in elementary schools, movie theaters, workplaces, houses of worship and on live television, the United States faces a public health crisis of gun violence.”

AMA President Steven J. Stack, M.D. 

Back in 2016, the AMA declared that we had a “a public health crisis” caused by gun violence and stated that we needed a “public health…solution.” Of course, nothing has happened politically in the last five years other than the usual hopes and prayers. But prayers don’t reduce gun violence.  

Louisiana is the fourth most religious state in the US. However, it also has the sixth highest rate of gun deaths in the nation.

There are 6.5 times as many deaths per capita in Louisiana versus Massachusetts. In 2019, 1,013 people were shot to death in Louisiana. Only 247 died of guns in Massachusetts, although it is more populous. As a reference point, we only had 22 soldiers killed in Afghanistan in 2019.The 6 states with the worst rates of gun deaths all have loose gun control laws; half are in the South. And 5 of the 6 states with the lowest death rates are in the Northeast (the exception is Hawaii).Guns and Ammo says that all have very strong gun control laws. Recognize a pattern? 

We’ve recently seen horrible mass shootings around the nation. Sometimes, these killings are the result of bigoted, hateful, unstable people. But our problem isn’t simply crazies committing mass murders. And people in Louisiana are no more mentally ill than people in Massachusetts. 

Many more killings are caused by “normal” people using readily available guns to kill themselves or others. The larger question is: “could any of these shootings have been prevented?”  

As Douglas Skelton, M.D., former head of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness programs for Georgia, told me, “In my experience the lethality of violence, whether toward one’s self or others, is highly dependent on the availability of a lethal weapon. To be effective, any solution aimed at reducing firearm deaths must first reduce the availability of guns, especially the most lethal ones.” 

Here are just a few of the many reasonable gun control measures that are supported by at least 50% of Americans of both parties (Pew, 12-27-18): 

  • stop the mentally ill from owning guns (89% overall support); 
  • stop those on “watch lists” from owning guns (86% Dem. and 83% Rep. support); 
  • halt private and gun show sales (91% D, 79% R); 
  • institute an assault rifle ban (81% D, 50% R); and 
  • halt sales of high-capacity magazines (81% D, 51% R). 

The real underlying problem is that politicians of both parties (but primarily the GOP) are on the payroll of the pro-gun lobbyists… as well as afraid of the NRA’s political power. In many red states, virtually every major politician gets an “A” rating from the NRA

In an ideal world, where people are elected because they follow the wishes of their constituents, that would get them an “F” rating from voters come election time. Louisiana residents, please make sure that you remember this fact when you step into the voting booth.

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Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.