MOUNT MORRIS TOWNSHIP, Michigan -- A 6-year-old girl was shot to death in her classroom Tuesday by a first-grade classmate with a stolen handgun, authorities said.
Kayla Rolland died at 10:29 a.m. of a single gunshot wound to the chest after being rushed to Hurley Medical Center by Emergency Medical Service workers, who said she was in cardiac arrest.
The suspected shooter was a 6-year-old boy who pulled a handgun from his pants pocket and fired one shot, Mount Morris Township Police Chief Eric King said.
The weapon, a .32-caliber handgun, was reported stolen in December, Genesee County Prosecutor Arthur A. Busch said, and it "somehow got in the boy's house," where he lived with his mother.
According to King, the boy was apprehended in a bathroom by the teacher and school principal after he had thrown the gun into a wastebasket.
These have been stories of innocent people who have been killed by a gun. One of the leading arguments in today’s society is the problem with guns. Why is gun-control such a hot-topic? Here are some startling statistics that will show you why this is looked at in such depth.
While the overall gun-related death rate in the United States has fallen in recent years, there’s still no other country in the industrialized world where more children die from guns.
New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy is the emotional lighting rod in Congress for handgun control proponents. Six years ago, her husband was killed and her son wounded here. . . on a Long Island, New York, train. . . by an assailant with a handgun.
Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy
"How many more guns are we going to hand over to criminals?"
Kids and Guns
· Children in the United States are at far greater risk of homicide death than their counterparts in other countries. According to a 1997 survey by the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of firearm deaths among American children aged 14 and under is nearly 12 times higher than among children in the other 25 industrialized countries combined.
· Every day in America, 14 children aged 19 and under are killed in gun homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings. For every child killed by a gun, four more are wounded.
· Each year, nearly 1,500 children are rushed to hospital emergency rooms with accidental gun injuries. In 1994, nearly 200 children died from such wounds
· In 1994, approximately 70 percent of the murder victims aged 15 to 17 years old were killed with a handgun.
· 400 children die every year from accidental shootings·· 3,000 children receive non-fatal injuries
· in 1998 nearly 700,000 violent crimes were committed w/ firearms
· American households contained 192 million firearms in 1994, of which 65 million were handguns
Guns in Schools
· Gun violence among young people continues, despite the fact that it is illegal for anyone under 21 to buy a handgun and anyone under 18 to buy a rifle or shotgun. This increased violence among young people has created an atmosphere of fear that has driven more young people to carry weapons.
· According to a recent report issued by the Department of Education, over 6,000 students were expelled in 1996-1997 for bringing guns to their public schools
· A 1995 survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control found that two in 25 high school students reported having carried a gun in the last 30 days.
· Public health researchers now explain the phenomenon of youth gun-carrying through a contagion model.
· Licensing and registration: 35 states have neither licensing nor registration for any type of gun. Only one state, Massachusetts, has both licensing and registration for all guns.
· Background checks: 32 states require no background checks when a handgun is purchased from an unlicensed seller, whether over the back fence or at a gun show. 44 states require no background checks when a rifle or shotgun is bought from an unlicensed seller.
· Children: Seven states have no legal minimum age for a child buying rifles or shotguns from an unlicensed seller: Connecticut, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Kansas, Alabama, Georgia, Maine. 18 states have no minimum age for possession of these guns. 13 states have a minimum age between 12 and 16: Hawaii, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Delaware, Nevada, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Dakota, Montana Alaska.
· Six states have no legal minimum age for a child to possess handguns: New Hampshire, Alabama, Wyoming, Texas, Louisiana and Maine. Five states set the minimum age below 18: Montana (age 14), and New York, Georgia, Vermont, Alaska (age 16).
· Waiting periods: 28 states have no waiting period at all for handgun purchases. 44 states have no waiting period for purchase of rifles or shotguns.
What is gun control?
government limitation of the purchase and ownership of firearms. The availability of guns is controlled by nations and localities throughout the world. In the United States the "right of the people to keep and bear arms is guaranteed by the Constitution, but has been variously interpreted through the years. Some states and localities have enacted strict licensing and other control measures, and federal legislation (1968) prohibited the sale of rifles by mail. Gun control has continued to be widely debated, however, and has often been opposed, notably by the National Rifle Association (NRA). The growing number of gun-related crimes together with citizen pressure propelled congressional passage (1993) of the "Brady bill (named for James Brady, the press secretary seriously wounded in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan) after years of controversy. It required a minimum of a five-day waiting period and background check before a handgun purchase. Parts of the!
bill were challenged in court and in 1997 the Supreme Court invalidated its background-check provision. The 1994 Crime Bill outlawed the manufacture, sale, and possession of military-style assault weapons. In 1999, following a rash of shootings at U.S. schools, further gun-control legislation was passed by the Senate but was voted down by the House of Representatives
Taking away possession of a fire arm completely may be almost impossible, but there are ways to make it more difficult to get one. Some of the propose ways include:
• Holding adults, including parents, criminally liable for allowing minors access to firearms, with mandatory prison sentences of three to ten years and fines up to $10,000.
• Mandating "safety locks" on all guns sold.
• Raising the legal age for handgun possession from 18 to 21 years of age.
• Banning possession of certain semiautomatic rifles by those under 21 years of age.
• Requiring a three-day (possibly extended to a five-day) waiting period for all handgun purchases.
• Limiting individual handgun purchases to one per month.
• Subjecting buyers of explosives to the same Brady law background checks required of gun purchasers.
• Requiring background checks on firearms buyers at gun shows.
The big argument is the 2nd amendment. The 2nd amendment says: The 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.
Understandably people argue this because it is our freedom of all freedoms, it is the foundation of our freedoms, but we can show that the summary of that amendment is: The original intent and purpose of the Second Amendment was to preserve and guarantee, not grant the pre-existing right of individuals, to keep and bear arms. Although the amendment emphasizes the need for a militia, membership in any militia let alone a well regulated one, is not required to exercise the right to keep and bear arms
Costs of guns
These are just some quick figures. They are certain, they are definite. There is virtually no debate on these.
· Approximately 60 percent of all murder victims in the United States in 1989 (about 12,000 people) were killed with firearms. According to estimates, firearm attacks injured another 70,000 victims, some of whom were left permanently disabled. In 1985 (the latest year for which data are available), the cost of shootings--either by others, through self-inflicted wounds, or in accidents--was estimated to be more than $14 billion nationwide for medical care, long-term disability, and premature death. In robberies and assaults, victims are far more likely to die when the perpetrator is armed with a gun than when he or she has another weapon or is unarmed. (Jeffrey A. Roth, Firearms and Violence. NIJ Research in Brief, February 1994).
· The number of gun victims has increased since 1989 to 15,456 gun homicides in 1994. (FBI UCR report)
· The cost of firearm injuries in the US in 1990 was an estimated $20.4 billion. This includes $1.4 billion for direct expenditures for health care and related goods, $1.6 billion in lost productivity resulting from injury-related disability, and $17.4 billion in lost productivity from premature death. (Max and Rice, 1993)
· A recent study of inpatient medical care for firearm- related injuries at an university trauma center (UC-Davis Medical Center) estimated that the actual cost of providing direct health care for firearm-related injuries in the US in 1995 is projected to be $4.0 BILLION. (Kizer et al., 1995)
· Firearm injuries are the third most costly injury the US. Although they represent only 0.5% of all injuries, they account for 9% of the total US lifetime cost of injury. (Max and Rice, 1993)
· The average cost of hospitalization for a patient with a firearm injury was found to be $6915 in 1984 (Martin, Hunt and Hulley, 1988), which translates to $19,173 in 1993 dollars. Costs can range up to $500,000 per patient in some centers. (Wintemute and Wright, 1992)
· The average cost of treating a child wounded by gunfire could provide a student with a year of college education. Researchers surveyed hospital discharges from 44 children s hospitals and found that in 1991 the average hospital charges for gunshot wounds to children were $14,434, about the cost of tuition, room and board at a private college. (National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions, Inc.)
· At least 80% of the cost of firearm injuries are borne, directly or indirectly, by the taxpayer. (Wintemute and Wright, 1992)
· The cost of firearm injuries treated at major trauma centers are substantial and the increasing volume of unreimbursed care for such injuries has become an important factor in the decision of many hospitals to end their participation in organized trauma systems. (General Accounting Office, 1991)
· Considerable savings to society would accrue from an effort that decreased firearm injuries, even if the same level of violence persisted using other weapons. A recent study from one trauma center in Seattle (Mock, Pilcher and Maier, 1994) demonstrated a substantial financial benefit if all patients with firearm injuries instead had suffered only stab wounds. This would have resulted in an annual overall savings of $1,290,000 in that one institution alone and $500,000,000 nationwide.
(The above quotations are compiled in The Economic Costs of Firearm Violence, prepared by Joy Blevins, M.S., M.F.C.C.)
There you have it: costs of up to $20 billion, most of which is borne by the taxpayer, which limits our rights and freedoms. Hundreds of thousands of injuries, limiting the freedoms of those shot, and tens of thousands of deaths, completely halting those freedoms.
In the balance of freedoms, the gun-control side is winning. Guns cost our society more freedom than they are worth
How can we possibly get people to give up their guns
Only when we convince gun owners that their guns are dangerous to the freedoms of others can we hope to succeed. If nobody buys the argument, and everybody wants guns, then all we can (and will) do is continue to attempt to persuade otherwise. But I believe that when looking at the problem honestly and evaluating the tremendous costs of guns to our freedoms, and their relatively minimal returns on such, we as a society will decide to maximize our freedoms by giving up the guns.
Rights come from one of two places. Either they are granted by God, or they are formed in agreement among people. Since God, although an important part of American society, has no official place in American government, our system of rights is based on an implicit social contract, one in which the general goal is to maximize freedom. Only when the American public comes to its senses and realizes that guns cost more than they are worth, will we all agree to limit one freedom, to provide us with another.
School shootings, workplace shootings, church shootings, drive-by shootings – when does it stop? Who enforces the law when a police officer shoots an unarmed person? Is justice blind in our society? What has happened to our society? How long are we going to continue to turn our heads away from the problem, and act as if it isn’t there? Cowards are committing these crimes, and we are cowards for allowing them to do it. We must take a stand.
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