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America’s appalling reality: we don’t care about our children

REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People attending a candlelight vigil on Thursday for victims of the shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida.

We don’t care about our children in this country. Not really.

If we cared about our children, a baby born in the United States wouldn’t have a 76 percent greater risk of dying before their first birthday than one born in other wealthy, democratic countries.

If we cared about our children, a child aged 1 to 19 wouldn’t have a 57 percent greater risk of dying before adulthood than elsewhere in the developed world.

And if we cared about our children, when we heard that UNICEF had ranked us 26 out of 29 developed countries (higher than only Lithuania, Latvia and Romania) with respect to overall child health and safety, we would feel a collective shame and rush into action to fix the situation.

But we don’t really care about our children. We continue to be content to let them die at greater rates than children in Spain or Slovenia or England or Estonia. 

Indeed, babies born in the U.S. are three times more likely to die from complications related to an early birth and twice as likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than those born in other Western countries.

Yet, we’re not bothered by those deaths. Instead of doing everything we can to help women — particularly those living on low incomes — have healthy pregnancies and care for their newborn babies, we make it difficult, if not outright impossible, for them to access quality health care or to have paid pregnancy and maternity leave or to live in safe, healthy environments.

And if we don’t care about our babies, we certainly don’t care about older children. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers, and our teens are twice as likely to die as the result of a car crash than adolescents in most other developed countries. We don’t talk much about those deaths, however, and, unlike other nations we don’t seem to feel any sense of urgency about them. In fact, our motor vehicle fatality rate is now 40 percent higher than that of Canada and Australia, two other large countries with lots of roads and cars. 

Even Slovenia has made better progress at reducing traffic fatalities than us. As David Leonhardt noted in the New York Times last November, “The comparison with Slovenia is embarrassing. In 1990, its death rate was more than five times as high as ours. Today, the Slovenians have safer roads.”

And then there’s gun violence. It’s all too clear by now that we don’t really care about keeping our children safe from being shot. If we did, then we would have taken actions long, long ago to prevent tragedies like Wednesday’s horrific mass murder at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Instead, we accept the unremitting gun carnage against our children. School shootings are a “uniquely American” phenomenon, as a BBC reporter explained to its British viewers the morning after the Parkland shooting, yet we don’t seem to be troubled by that description — or by the relentlessness of such tragedies. Here, as I’ve reported before, is the appalling reality that results from our disinterest in the relationship between guns and our children’s safety: 

Each year, nearly 1,300 children aged 0 to 17 in the United States — more than three a day — die from gunshot wounds. Another 5,790 are treated each year for gunshot-related injuries, wounds that leave many of the children disabled for life. 

And those numbers are probably underestimates.

The situation is so grim that firearm-related deaths — homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings — are now the third-leading cause of death overall among American children. More children in the United States die from gunshot wounds than from birth defects, heart disease, influenza and/or pneumonia, chronic lower respiratory diseases (including asthma) and stroke.

Firearm-related deaths are also now the second-leading cause of injury-related deaths among children. Only motor vehicles claim more of these lives.

Indeed, 10 percent of all deaths among children aged 0 to 17 are the result of gun injuries. 

The American Medical Association has called gun violence “a public health crisis,” one that’s “unrivaled in any other country.” And the American Academy of Pediatrics believes the “the most effective way to reduce firearm-related injuries and death is to keep guns out of homes and communities.” 

Unintentional gunshot wounds alone — ones that result from accidents — claim 10 times more children’s lives in the United States than in other developed countries.

Yet Congress refuses to pass legislation to tighten laws on gun sales and ownership. Congress even refuses to fund federal gun-related health research to help find ways of reducing gun deaths and injuries. 

Compare our inaction with what the Australians did. After a man with a gun went on a rampage in one of its cities in 1996, killing 35 people, Australia tightened its gun laws. It hasn’t experienced another mass shooting since.

Seventeen people, including 14 children, died in the Parkland school gun massacre on Wednesday, a tragedy difficult to fathom. But the bloodbath doesn’t end there. Many more children across the country will die from gunshot wounds this week and next week and in the weeks after that.

And we do nothing. 

Comments (42)

  1. Submitted by Colin Brownlow on 02/16/2018 - 10:13 am.

    Thank you

    Susan, thank you for this. It’s a pretty damning assessment of our society, made all the more damning through the use of solid data. There was a time when America lead the world in public health. That was when America had robust public health departments and initiatives that were funded as if they were a priority and not an afterthought. Sadly, based upon any objective measure of public health, America is no longer a public health leader.

    I’m glad you’ve addressed gun violence as a public health issue. For the life of me I cannot understand treating children as some sort of collateral cost of an almost rabid adherence to a view of the second amendment. I wish we could do something like Australia did, or Canada, or the UK, or Germany and so on.

    I do wonder if we couldn’t do something similar to approach to smoking. If we are so attached to firearms, don’t ban them, but tax them commensurate with the harm they cause. Tax ammunition or restrict quantities that can be purchased. Look at the age at which fireams can be purchased. If we can restrict liquor purchases can be restricted to those over 21 then why not restrict firearm purchases similarly.

    Finally I am sick and tired of the argument that criminals can get hold of firearms no matter what. Maybe they can. But there is no need for the society to make it easy for them. Criminals in the other nations are no less ingenious than US criminals. Firearm crime is much rarer in other developed nations than in the US. Not because they’re criminals are less crafty than ours, but because the gun supply is so much smaller and the ability to find available firearms outside of the legal system is so much harder.

    • Submitted by Misty Martin on 02/20/2018 - 11:42 am.

      Yes, thank you, Susan and Colin.

      I agree wholeheartedly. It really makes a person sick to his or her stomach to realize the statistics that you brought forth, Susan. And yes, Colin, I too, am sick and tired of hearing that old argument about how criminals can get hold of firearms no matter what.

      Heaven help us all. America needs to wake up and do something – NOW!!! Our children and grandchildren are counting on us to do what is right. We can’t keep letting them down.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/16/2018 - 10:26 am.

    Mistaken identity

    We do nothing because “pro-life” legislators and advocates are not, in general, “pro-life.” They are more inclined to be anti-birth control, or anti-female, or anti-sex. At best, they are “pro-birth.” As has been said many times by people more articulate than I, the interest in the health and welfare of a child for most “pro-life” groups and individuals stops as soon as that child is born. Paying attention to children after that signature event costs money, usually tax money, and many – though not all, certainly – of those at that end of the political and ideological spectrum tend to be reflexively opposed to taxes, just as they’re reflexively opposed to women having control of their own bodies, and deciding for themselves whether or not they’ll bear a child.

    As for the guns… well… we’ve been here before, and many, many times in the past couple decades. Legislators and government officials at every level are in the pocket of an organizations whose reason for being used to be firearm safety, but is now firearm possession and use, not to mention the protection of the firearms industry. Campaign contributions are more important than children’s lives for far too many legislators, usually Republican, but not always.

    Even in the unlikely event that something substantive comes out of the latest massacre, it will, more likely than not, address the symptom rather than the cause or the enabling factor. There will be lots of rhetoric about mental health, and mental health is certainly a legitimate issue and concern. Little will be done to address it, mostly because it’s difficult and expensive to address. Little will also be done to address the means by which these repeated mass murders take place. The fact that you **can** hunt deer with assault rifles, like the fact that some dogs can walk on their hind legs, doesn’t at atll means that that’s the intended design or purpose. Assault rifles are designed and built to kill people. That’s their purpose. They may also be used to kill other animals, but their primary purpose is to kill and maim humans. I won’t be surprised if we fail to follow the Australian example, or a variation on the Swiss example. Again.

  3. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 02/16/2018 - 11:47 am.

    It’s Time to Modernize the Second Amendment

    The Second Amendment was approved in 1791 when there wasn’t a single gun with anywhere near the capability, capacity, or killing power of some of today’s guns. Today’s high capacity magazines and high-powered cartridges have only one purpose, high capacity killing. They are weapons of war. There is not any need for the public to have them. It’s Congress and the NRA that has the blood on their hands by not doing a single thing to bring the Second Amendment up to today’s reality. There weren’t any weapons of war in 1791 that come anywhere near the capability of today’s weapons. It is time to modernize the Second Amendment. I know it will be a hard-fought slog going up against our weakling congress’ sugar daddy, the NRA.

    The Republicans always have three responses for anything to do with gun control. The first response is, “It’s not the right time to talk about it.” They never find the right time to talk about it. The second response is, “It’s not a gun problem, but a mental health issue.” They are half right. It is a mental health issue, but it is also a gun problem. The third response is, “Our prayers and thoughts are with you.” America has had it with all three irresponsible and insincere responses. If we do away with the high capacity weapons, it will minimize the number of people that can be killed at one time. Weaponizing everyone, as the NRA foolishly suggests, is not the answer. That is what the NRA wants because it is good for the gun industry, which is the NRA’s sugar daddy. The NRA and gun industry have a symbiotic relationship, which isn’t necessarily good for the public. Gun ownership and responsibility need to go together and not everyone is capable of the responsibility part. With each mass shooting the perpetrators prove that they are unable to be responsible law-abiding citizens. Nearly all have a previous record, which should set off red flags. Guns used to be aesthetically pleasing to look at. Many had generational family histories with memorable stories associated with them. Many had beautiful woods used in their construction. Walk into any gun shop today and there will be a wall of black, radical looking guns that don’t have anything to do with traditional American sports. For me, the radical looking guns are peddling exactly what the NRA peddles – fear and intimidation.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/17/2018 - 06:13 pm.

      The Many Forms of Prayer

      Several years ago, a woman was attacked and beaten in my neighborhood. A local minister arranged a walk to and prayer service at the site of the attack, to reclaim the spot a a safe public space for all. At dinner, I told my kids we would be praying with our feet that evening, rather than our usual spoken prayers. I took my cue from southern slaves who prayed with their feet.

      I know a guy who retired, and spent years working one day each week on Habitat homes, praying with his hammer.

      Christians believe prayer is powerful, a notion ridiculed by some progressives, despite some progressives who are motivated by their Christian values. See Rev. King for details. But prayers can ring hollow. God gave me a brain, and expects me to use it. If I pray for a safe road trip but don’t buckle my seat belt, I’m like a noisy gong, and just as worthless.

      As a pro life Christian, so called pro lifers who do and say nothing about the horrific gun violence in this country upset to no end. That an organization like MCCL does not advocate for WIC and programs like it shocks me.

    • Submitted by Bob Wold on 02/18/2018 - 12:40 pm.

      second amendment

      A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
      The problem is not the second amendment, the problem is how it is understood. The second amendment gives the people the right to bear arms, in support of a well regulated Militia. It is a community right, not an individual right to bear arms. Arms are the modern weapons of the day need for a Militia to defend its’ community from attack by a army. Militias were armed with explosives, canon, fire arms, swords, hatchets, flaming arrows, rockets and spears. The second amendment says nothing about individuals or guns. It says nothing about hunting or sport shooting. At the time the constitution was written, our forefathers did not want a standing army. Militias we organized for the countries defense.

  4. Submitted by joe smith on 02/16/2018 - 11:51 am.

    A few questions?

    How would you make driving safer for teens? Are you saying there are not enough programs to help poor women.? Currently there are over 25 programs set up for pregnant women and their children, would you like more? Who’s fault is it if poor folks don’t use the programs set up for them, yours, mine or theirs? What gun laws would you include to the many laws on the book that are currently not being enforced?
    In Chicago 750-800 people are killed by guns per year with some of the most stringent gun laws. It seems people don’t care much about the fact that almost 100% of the shootings, involved in gun deaths in Chicago, the guns are not obtained legally. What stops that?
    I agree that we need to protect our children as much as we can but how is the question? I don’t hear any solutions that will work. I don’t hear folks talk about the breakdown of the family leading to dysfunctional children. I don’t hear about the violence in video games, movies, music videos/songs hurting our children. I do however hear too much of it’s not your fault, people don’t care about you, you don’t stand a chance at success because- pick your excuse- and Americans don’t care about their children. That last statement is absolutely false. Of course Americans care about their children, how to protect them is the question. The liberal view point that America is somehow inherently bad does nothing to help anyone.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/16/2018 - 01:09 pm.

      The answer Joe–is uniform and tough regulation

      (quote)

      “According to the FBI, roughly 60% of guns used in crimes in Illinois were from out of state. The overwhelming number of those guns flow into Illinois from states that have much less restrictive gun laws. Most of those out of state guns came from Indiana, which is next to Illinois. Second place goes to Mississippi and third place goes to Wisconsin. The FBI data suggests that there’s lots of trafficking of guns within Illinois but point out that it’s very difficult to trace those guns once they get into the state because Illinois does not require registration of guns, does not license or regulate gun dealers, doesn’t limit how many guns can be sold at one time and does not require background searches on gun sales that are not conducted at a gun show. Indiana has really lax gun laws. Gun dealers are required to perform a very basic background search while a vendor can sell their “private collection” to anyone at a gun show without any background search whatsoever. So someone can buy an assault rifle at a Crown Point Indiana gun show without any background search, and drive an hour into Chicago, where assault rifles are banned. A 2015 study by the University of Chicago suggested that only 11% of guns involved in crimes in Chicago were purchased through federally licensed gun dealers, which require background searches. In 2014 the Chicago Police reported that roughly 60% of guns used and recovered from crime scenes between 2009 and 2013 were purchased outside of Illinois. Exact figures are hard to pin down but it is clear that the vast majority of guns making their way to the streets of Chicago are coming from outside of Illinois.

      The significance of these figures is that unless national standards are imposed, there’s no law or amount of regulation in Illinois that is going to stop guns from making their way into Chicago and being used in shootings and murders. Instead of gun rights activists pointing to Illinois strict gun laws to argue that they don’t work, they should point to states that have lax gun laws as an example of why such stricter laws are needed to stop, or at least slow down, the rising numbers of shootings and murders in Chicago.”

      https://www.chicagocriminallawyerblog.net/2017/09/where-do-all-illegal-guns-from-chicago.html

      (end quote)

      All the various loopholes and varying state regulations.

    • Submitted by Julie Moore on 02/16/2018 - 01:24 pm.

      A few (of my) answers

      Safer driving for teens: parents have to grow up and be parents. The rules are in place, but I know too many parents who find them “inconvenient”. (no phones, only one passenger for 6 months, off the road hours). The one thing we could do is make all insurance companies offer the teen monitoring discounts and make them matter enough that parents would insist on using them. But again, parents have to be the boss for a change.

      Poor women: There are programs, but they are so understaffed that often the reason many women are not taking advantage of them are due to the lack of education and resources to reach out. We know many of these women are not at an education level to get out of their situation by themselves, but throwing money at people without the program education and a plan to move upward won’t work. Then again, how do we pay for more staff. Always a dilemma.

      Gun laws: I love the way everyone compares the need for gun laws to Chicago. Gun laws have to be enforced, gang problems in Chicago don’t even compare to here . . . and white collar crime. Let’s stop comparing. We all know that there are loop holes in gun laws. There are plenty of gun laws, many of which need to be clarified, scrapped or rewritten. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. And I don’t think anyone is that afraid of the NRA, it’s the loss of funds that they are afraid of. So campaign finance laws would probably take care of that and we would move forward and clean up our laws.

      Families: I do not think kids can’t grow up well in single parent households. It’s just harder. That being said, it once again goes back to the adults. NO to video games, movies, websites that are not suitable for our kids. If we quit the demand, they will quit making them. But adults have to be adults.

      And I think the caring remark was to grab attention. It did it’s job. But, not everyone does care, so a blanket statement on either side is actually false.

  5. Submitted by joe smith on 02/16/2018 - 01:31 pm.

    Neal, how about stop and frisk

    in high crime, shooting areas in Chicago? That would get guns off the streets quicker than new uniform laws. Do you think the gang bangers in Chicago will turn in their guns if tougher gun laws are passed throughout the 50 States. How about tougher laws on possessing an illegal gun? These laws would work but are not being used by Chicago police because liberals oppose them. Isn’t that endangering our children also?

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/16/2018 - 03:40 pm.

      (quote)Though gun ownership

      (quote)

      Though gun ownership laws are stricter in Illinois than neighboring states, the report found that — as was the case when the 2014 report was published — more than 40 percent of guns recovered in Chicago were originally purchased in Illinois.

      The report concluded that of the approximately 27,500 guns recovered in Chicago from 2013 through 2016, more than 1,800 were originally purchased at Chuck’s Gun Shop, located a mile south of city limits in Riverdale.

      Most of the guns recovered that were tied to Chuck’s were recovered on the South Side.

      Reached by the Sun-Times, an employee at Chuck’s declined to comment.

      Other gun dealers with notable ties to guns recovered in Chicago are located in west suburban Lyons, Gary, Ind., Hammond, Ind., and north suburban Lincolnwood.

      Straw purchases continue to be a major factor in guns going from the open market to the secondary market, oftentimes stymying police efforts to trace the weapons’ origins.

      In instances where someone was arrested and a gun was recovered, the report found the overwhelming majority of guns were not bought by the person arrested.

      “In 95% of cases where the CPD was able to identify the possessor of the crime gun, that individual was not the original, lawful purchaser of the firearm based upon the ATF record at the initial point of purchase,” the report states.

      Additionally, the report found, 91.6 percent of guns were traced back to an original buyer who was not linked to any other recovered firearms.

      Straw purchasers will also sometimes lie to police and say their gun was lost or stolen “as an excuse intended to cut off further investigation,” according to the report.

      https://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/trace-report-details-origins-of-chicago-guns-possible-solutions/

      (end quote)

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/16/2018 - 03:45 pm.

      (quote)With no permit or

      (quote)

      With no permit or license required to purchase a gun in Indiana, it is incredibly easy for a trafficker to drive across the state line, obtain a gun and use it to commit a homicide on the streets of Chicago.

      http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/glanton/ct-met-gun-control-chicago-dahleen-glanton-20171003-story.html

      (end quote)

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/16/2018 - 05:14 pm.

      Statistics and probability

      If there are no guns in the population there is “ZERO” chance someone will get shot. Unless of course you have some news laws of probability? The more guns in the population (with appropriate ammo) the higher the probability someone gets shot or killed, accidentally or on purpose. This has nothing to do with the 2nd amendment it has to do with 101 common statistics and probability. It has to do with using the education and the tools we have to make reasonable and smart decisions for all of us, regardless of your personal beliefs. Its not a political issue its a are we capable of making good decision issues or are we required to live by primitive tribal instincts?

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/16/2018 - 10:39 pm.

      It’s strange

      Pro-gun advocates are always quick to point out how “assault” rifles isn’t an accurate term to describe the types of weapons used to commit these mass shooting. In the next breath they are quick to point out that fully automatic weapons are in fact already illegal (they’re not, but ARE strictly regulated) so classifying weapons such as these as similar is foolhardy. Tell me, Mr. Smith, how it is that, through regulation, we’ve managed to keep automatic weapons out of the hands of mass shooters, but somehow are unable to keep ordinary firearms from them by the same means?

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/17/2018 - 08:45 am.

        Yes it IS strange…

        It IS funny when our so-called gun experts are suddenly the only guys in the room who can’t recognize an assault rifle when they see one. Suddenly we’re at the mercy of gun-geeks who claim that any gun that doesn’t meet the exact specs of whatever the Pentagon is currently ordering for combat is a COMPLETELY different weapon than the one you can buy in a gun store.

        Listen, the military versions have selector switches that convert the weapon from full to a semi automatic
        fire. According to gun geek logic that selector switch changes the very existential nature of the weapon every time it’s used… assault rife- not assault rifle, assault rifle- not assault rifle. Amazing what one little switch can do eh?

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/17/2018 - 10:26 am.

        What I would suggest for anyone curious as to the connection between mass shootings and “assault style” weapons is for you to look at a couple magazines, such as those put out by the NRA, that have advertisements for guns of various kinds.

        The “assault-style” and “sniper-style” gun advertisements almost invariably show the person holding the weapon in camouflage and/or masked attire, crouched in a ready position as to attack or repel attackers. Not a realistic image for life in America, but certainly one that feeds directly into paranoid ideas or capture the idea of revenge and saving ones-self.

        The “wood-stock” hunting style guns are show in woodsy settings with hunting definitely the goal.

        Couple the “assault-style” with the casual disregard for life in movies and video games, often accomplished by those same weapons, and it is easy to see why disturbed minds find the connection between their unhappiness and their solution to their unhappiness via the “assault-style” weapon.

        • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/18/2018 - 01:57 pm.

          Let me give you an example of a current ad in a NRA publication.

          It’s for a assault-style shotgun (Keltec KSG-25)–it has a pistol grip and it has a forward pump grip to slide the rounds into the chamber faster. A picture of the weapon is superimposed on a background that says”load and load and load…”

          It’s claim to fame is that it can contain 25 rounds of 2-3/4″ shells or 41 rounds of 1-1/2 shells, in a shorter length than most shotguns. The spent shells eject downward so they don’t get in the way of seeing your targets.

          It definitely not a hunting gun, and it not a trap or skeet gun, And, I’ve never heard of a personal protection need to fire 25 or 41 rounds at a home intruder (most home intruders would leave with the sound of racking a shell into the chamber). Like all shotguns, its not for precision shooting at a target range–it’s effective range is less than a hundred feet.

          In the end, it is a close-up weapon for killing as many people as possible in a grouped gathering.

          The intent of these sorts of weapons is truly evil.

  6. Submitted by Wes Davey on 02/16/2018 - 08:09 pm.

    LGBTQ kids

    And if we cared about LGBTQ kids, our schools would be places of support and peace when parents fail them, where school administrators and teachers would be welcoming of all, and Gay-Straight Alliances found among school clubs.

  7. Submitted by richard owens on 02/17/2018 - 09:50 am.

    “Sunrise Tactical Supply”

    Florida: No waiting period, unless you want a handgun.

    CRAZY.

    I suggest Congress hold a vote to Repeal the Second Amendment. No need to outlaw the ownership of guns, just make it a privilege like driving- regulating age, health, insurance and personal record.

    I suggest the Congress hold a vote to hold manufacturers accountable for the damage their products cause when used as intended, but this time do not exempt weaponry.

    We will still have our guns.

    We will simply be injecting a heavy dose of personal responsibility and enforcing product liability as we do for any other dangerous product.

    These suggestions are both reasonable and moderate.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/18/2018 - 10:50 pm.

      “I suggest the Congress hold a vote to hold manufacturers accountable for the damage their products cause when used as intended, but this time do not exempt weaponry” Should we hold car manufacturers accountable for every road death? People are killed by cars which are used as intended…

  8. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/17/2018 - 01:31 pm.

    The title is beyond ridiculous and the piece itself is not much better. I assume “we” means “government” and I can think of a place where government was taking care of children: the USSR (at least on paper the Communist Party took care of everyone). In other places (and even in the Soviet Union, for all practical purposes) it was the parents who took care of their children; some did better and some did worse, of course, but that is a natural process. So if anything, we can say that in America more parents don’t take care of their children than in other developed countries.

    Of course, we still have two issues that parents mostly can’t control – kids being killed on the roads by others and in mass shootings in schools (being killed by a hand gun on the street is preventable in most cases). Well, we can increase the driving age to 18, 21, 25 (take your pick) which would help but I doubt many people will go along with this. And we can ban (and confiscate all existing) AR-15’s in the country thus possibly reducing the number of kids killed in schools but that will not make a dent in the overall numbers of child mortality.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/18/2018 - 10:57 am.

      Wrong assumption Ilya

      Ilya, the United State is a liberal democracy, not a totalitarian soviet state. When we say: “We” here, the government and the “people” are the ultimately the same thing. You constantly make this false distinction between our government and the citizens because you refuse to recognize the fact that there are different types of governments. This failure to recognize the nature of OUR government is a standard feature of Republican and libertarian mentalities that work with a manufactured stereotype of “government” rather than the actual institution created by out Constitution.

      The “we” being referred to here is the people of the United States as in: “We the peoeple”. Sure, our government isn’t always responsive to the majority, and we have an elite that can exercise disproportionate control, but ultimately our representatives are elected and subject to re-election, and that does translate into people power.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/18/2018 - 10:49 pm.

        Yes, “we, the people” elect our government but at the end, it is still the government that would have to adopt the laws. So mine wasn’t an assumption – it is a reality: it’s the government‘s actions, not those of individual people’s, that the article implies should be taken. We, the people, can take individual actions, for example, talks to our kids about good behavior in schools, safety, family values, and provide them with food and shelter which is more important than the latest IPhone or Nike shoes. But that was not what this piece was about: It was about electing the government that would adopt the “right” laws, which is an equivalent of not caring and giving the responsibilities to someone else (the government in this case, just like some parents leave their kids with grandparents).

        Now let’s talk about what government can do. There are irresponsible parents who literally don’t care about their kids. So what can the government do in these cases? Take kids away from them? Fine bad parents? Give them more money? And I already talked about options related to road and gun deaths… So maybe instead of accusing people of not caring, we should discuss what laws can be adopted and then, after realizing that no government can fix these things, discuss personal responsibilities?

        • Submitted by ian wade on 02/19/2018 - 01:01 pm.

          Uhhh…what?

          ” So maybe instead of accusing people of not caring, we should discuss what laws can be adopted and then, after realizing that no government can fix these things, discuss personal responsibilities?”

          This quote says everything about the mentality of what passes for conservatism…a “discussion” that, before it even starts, concludes that nothing an be done, and falls back on “personal responsibility.”

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/19/2018 - 04:00 pm.

            “This quote says everything about the mentality of what passes for conservatism…a “discussion” that, before it even starts, concludes that nothing an be done, and falls back on “personal responsibility.” I didn’t suggest to circumvent a discussion on what government can do – I just expressed my opinion that it can’t do anything but, by any means, let’s have that discussion… I am open to suggestions…

        • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 02/19/2018 - 03:35 pm.

          I think you are being overly influenced

          by your experience in the Soviet Union. Just because you reject one system doesn’t mean that you have to embrace its exact opposite.

          Many democratic countries take better care of their children than the U.S. does. The Western European countries set the example here (universal medical care, visiting nurses to check up on new mothers, universal pre-kindergarten, nutritious and appealing school lunches, monthly allowances to help with child rearing expenses, long parental leaves) but firmly capitalist Japan provides annual medical and dental checkups for schoolchildren–in school.

          Even when I was in elementary school in Wisconsin, the school had a schedule of immunizations administered to all children for free (with parental permission). We used to groan whenever the teachers passed out permission cards for us to take home.

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/19/2018 - 04:00 pm.

            You have a good point but trust me, I do not mindlessly embrace the opposite of Socialism. I see deficiencies of capitalism, agree that government is a necessary institution that may do good, and think that education in the USSR was better than it is now in America. I would also support free (and mandatory) immunization in schools and would not oppose good lunches at school and yearly check ups for kids in elementary schools. However, all those things will affect children well-being very minimally without parents being responsible for their kids – and they are in Europe and Japan. For example, America has the highest percentage of single parent household among industrialized nations.

  9. Submitted by Garth Taylor on 02/18/2018 - 11:19 am.

    Children don’t vote

    I am opposed to mass school shootings and the Republican and Democrat legislators who enable them. That said, a major reason the US has a mass shooting problem much greater than all other democratic societies, maybe more than all other societies in the world, is that children (who are most of the victims) don’t vote, and their parents don’t care ENOUGH about the issue to vote out the enablers either. The democratic process has been hijacked by the NRA, much the same way it was hijacked by the Russian government, except with the NRA you get lobbying, mis-information campaigns, electoral thuggery, and YUGE cash donations which are considered legal. If you want to see the way out of this hell-hole look at Australia or Canada, where the parents stood up to the gun lobbies and won.

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/18/2018 - 11:37 am.

    Neoliberal consumerism has warped priorities

    In a very basic sense Ms. Perry is absolutely correct, this is not a rhetorical flourish.

    During the 70’s liberals conservatives in America both adopted civic models that assumed consumerism one way or another was transcendent socio-political model of the future. Free markets and rational consumerism would solve all problems and render government mostly irrelevant beyond it’s skeletal framework.

    The New Democrats like the Clinton’s embraced privatization schemes and NGO’s under the assumption that market mentalities and greed would produce more efficient outcomes. Alan Greenspan was a God who could do no wrong. Republicans pursued their own version of neolibralism in the form of trickle down economics and the celebration of wealth.

    The practical effect of this was to transform of nation full of citizens into a nation full of consumers. This was a toxic conversion because unlike citizens, consumers have but one responsibility, and that is to seek personal satisfaction. In essence, neoliberalism took a capitalist economy to the next level and made money the in any way shape or form the only rational priority.

    In a consumer society everything has to be a commodity and can have no value beyond it’s dollar amount. So housing stopped being places where people live, and became wealth building mechanism. Children became revenue sources for charter schools, day care providers, and school districts.

    Recently here on Minnnpost there is an complaint from the day care industry that public funded pre-K is impossible to compete with… as if our children exist as little more than a potential revenue stream for the private sector.

    So yes, on a very basic level as a society we’ve forgotten how to actually care about people and their well being. There’s no private sector market solution for massacres so they continue despite their obvious tragedy and obvious solutions. It’s impossible to “care” under these circumstances, we have to roll back the consumer mentality and start thinking about what it means to be a human being who lives in a community, and the responsibility that accompanies that reality.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/19/2018 - 06:30 am.

      Customers

      And to reinforce your point, government agencies refer to us as “customers”. No, I’m not a customer of government. I can choose to go to Target or K-Mart or Wal Mart, but I only have one municipal government, one county government, etc. My relationship to my government is as a citizen, a much more sacred relationship than that of customer.

      • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 02/20/2018 - 04:08 pm.

        I saw this trend in higher education before I left academia, and it is crazy now.

        Students were not young people who needed knowledge and skills but customers who had to be pleased. That is why every college I have seen develop over the years looks more luxurious than it did when I was either teaching or studying there. College bookstores have largely been replaced by Barnes and Noble. There are multiple options for food, not just the main cafeteria and the snack bar, and dorms bear more resemblance to apartments than to the dorms of old. The gyms are state-of-the-art.

        Student evaluations reinforce the notions of student as consumer. My own evaluations were generally pretty decent, and evaluations could be useful for identifying exceptionally good or exceptionally bad teachers, but most of us found that students gave bad evaluations when they were expecting a poor grade or when they had been reprimanded for their behavior. (Evaluations were submitted anonymously, but we got to see them after submitting grades, and those of us who gave frequent homework learned to recognize people’s handwriting.)

        If an “A” student had a criticism, it was usually a valid one. If a “D” student had a criticism, it was along the lines of “We had homework all the time and we did boring things in class instead of interesting things like making sushi or seeing slides of Japan.” (I taught Japanese language and literature.)

        At the same time, as professors retire, their courses are being taken over by underpaid adjuncts, who are so desperate to teach that they will work for low pay and no benefits. I taught like that for two years, traveling between two campuses and sharing an office in shifts, but I eventually moved on to full-time jobs. There are fewer full-time openings than there were in the 1980s, when I paid my dues as an adjunct.

        This loss of full-time faculty has occurred at the same time as growth in the number of highly paid administrators. Every function has an administrator who needs an assistant who needs an assistant who needs an assistant. It seems that these people exist to issue memos and call meetings, which the faculty see as interrupting their real work of teaching and research.

        This growth in administrative positions seems like an influence from the business world, along with the attitude that managers who write memos and call meetings are more important and deserve more financial rewards than the people who do the actual work of the company or institution.

        I’m so glad that I’m out of that world.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/19/2018 - 04:01 pm.

      “we have to roll back the consumer mentality and start thinking about what it means to be a human being who lives in a community, and the responsibility that accompanies that reality.” So how do we practically do it? Put limits on consumption?

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/20/2018 - 01:54 pm.

        As mentioned many times

        Free market is not enshrined in the constitution, despite what folks think. Perhaps we can start thinking and doing what makes sense for the broad spectrum of Americans and not just the uber-rich. There are no silver bullets for our country/economy, only in Lone Ranger and Werewolf movies. We can be sure there are some reasonable things we can incorporate. Would one think that cutting tax for the uber-rich is more beneficial than reducing gun violence? Food for thought.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/20/2018 - 10:17 pm.

          Of course free market is not a law and is not mandatory… it’s just the only thing that works economically. And everyone is for reducing gun violence… just tell us how.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/21/2018 - 10:22 am.

            How?

            Banning the sale of assault weapons would probably produce the greatest decrease of the massacres in the short term. The NRA is actually right when they say that the vast majority of gun owners are law abiding. It’s actually true that 99.9% of these the assault weapons that are currently in American civilian hands will never be used in a mass shooting. If you look at the profile of these shooters, most of them acquired their arsenal in short period of time before the attack. TA program that focuses on effectively keeping future attackers from acquiring these weapons will produce a more immediate affect that trying to regulate the weapons that are already out there. If we were to ban the sale of these weapons, by anyone to anyone other than a short list of authorized buyers, it would shut down the supply chain that enable these massacres.

            We’d still have other forms of gun violence to contend with, but substantially reducing the frequency of these massacres I think is a priority.

            Getting back to consumerism, the problem with sales bans is that they don’t make anyone money, so they’re not “market” solutions. As long as we any “solution” we’re willing to consider must produce a profit for someone, we’re trapped in suicidal circle of absurdity.

          • Submitted by ian wade on 02/21/2018 - 01:59 pm.

            We’ve been telling you “how!”

            You just don’t like the answer. Look, I’m a gun owner and I’m beyond tired of gun enthusiasts trying to justify civilian ownership of military style weapons based upon their interpretation of writings from people that have been dead for a couple of hundred years. People that, in their time, wouldn’t have been able to grasp the concept of cotton candy, much less the technological advances of modern weaponry.
            The NRA won’t even budge on limits to magazine capacity…that’s insane.

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/21/2018 - 09:49 pm.

              I would be fine with banning semi-automatic rifles but we still need to understand that mass shooting deaths constitute less than 5% of all firearms homicides and less than 2% of all gun related deaths.

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/22/2018 - 09:42 am.

                Thanks Ilya, let’s get started!

                We all understand that gun violence is a complex issue and there is no single magic bullet (per se) that will end it ALL over night. So let’s start by ending these massacres and move on the other issues as we go. There are a variety of suggestions out there. Let’s ban the sale of assault weapons and move on from there.

  11. Submitted by Peter Spooner on 02/18/2018 - 09:08 pm.

    we don’t care about our children

    I believe Paul has a very valid point here. We have been letting markets have their way with our families for generations. We have voluntarily relinquished control, and we need to be intentional about getting it back.

    Earn, earn, earn, spend, spend, spend is a cycle that benefits few. I want to live in a real community of shared resources that is right-sized. I believe this can be created and replicated for people who want it.

    Small is beautiful. Time to be creative and ask why can’t we design communities of manageable size, around shared child care, education, health care and resource distribution? Why not? What is stopping us?

    Sure I know what slows such ideas down, but really, if enough like minded people decide they’ve had enough with an economy that saps life out of them and leaves them downtrodden and powerless, maybe the tipping point is nigh.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/19/2018 - 08:57 am.

    Years ago Bill Clinton was on David Letterman…

    I remember seeing Bill on Letterman years ago and when Letterman asked the Great Man how we could convert to more sustainable and renewable energy he said something like: “Well the problem is no one has monetized clean energy…”

    This was the perfect neoliberal response, we can’t make good or even necessary policy unless someone will profit. Same thing applies to school shootings, until someone monetizes the suppression of school shootings…. Guess what? Sure enough the big solutions are: A) Sell more guns so all the “good guys” are armed. And/or B) Hire private security firms to patrol campuses.

    You see the problem right? We have to break out of this perverse consumer model that demands we “buy” something that’s being marketed in order to solve every problem. You will notice, this consumer model has been the worse problem solving attempt in history. Not only are we still dealing with the same problems that plagued us when I graduated from high school in 1981, we’ve traded up in most cases to much bigger problems.

  13. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/22/2018 - 09:17 am.

    Since

    The adults can’t end the gun insanity, only one thing to say!
    “GO KIDS GO”

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