It is sad to again see so many innocents killed. It is especially tough on health professionals to watch this, because of how helpless it makes one feel when one is used to a profession built on the EXPECTATION of being able to help with most problems one identifies, yet we have nothing to offer those who ask "what can I do to stop this happening to me or my child?"

I can tell you how to avoid an allergic reaction to a drug you know you are allergic to, I can tell you how to reduce substantially your risk of melanoma, I have lots of advice on how to avoid developing COPD, I can advise on protective gear to reduce the incidence or even prevent so many injuries. Other than "buy a one way ticket out of the USA", what advice can you give a parent who wants to protect their child against guns? One feels helpless.

Perhaps because I am looking at it from outside the USA, because I am lucky enough not to live with it every day, that I am only looking at this issue periodically and might be interpreting it somewhat differently. I have spent quite some time in the USA, as well as in some other countries in which lives are extinguished in a similar fashion, although I am sure no-one needs to point out that the USA is the only 1st World country in this club.

I used to think that guns were the problem. I used to have very long debates about it on Listservs like this one and on many occasions when I met with Americans. Indeed, I even have one American Doc friend who is pro-guns and 2nd amendment and all that! And I do enjoy firing rifles at a range now and again myself. But still, I used to argue that guns were the problem and these other "issues", a few already mentioned on this short thread, were just excuses not to deal with the problem.

But then, a year or so back, when working on my laptop in the late evenings and nights and wanting to put something on the TV in the background, as is my habit, I stumbled across a Clint Eastwood Western movie. I started watching more oldie Westerns on that same channel. Movie after movie, with whole bunches of people getting shot and killed. Many of these movies are rather poor films, of course, but they brought up a thought: People just got shot. It was how life was. It was "normal". People walked around with guns on their belts. It was normal. It was "news" when a town BANNED the carriage of weapons! And this got me thinking further and I now think that it's not the guns that are the problem, but that what stands in the way of a solution is that it's considered "normal" for guns to be around. I don't think it will be possible to do much with just gun laws - they can be a part of the solution - the removal of guns may be part of the solution, although their presence is not THE problem. THE problem is that everyone is used to this and they appear to have been used to it since even before Clint Eastwood.

What we need is to go out there and repeat the message as many millions of times as it takes: The problem is that guns are tolerated and, even, expected. We need to reject them in the same manner as beating our children, smoking, drink-driving, etc. It's got to be a culture change. People should not be able to carry a weapon in public AT ALL. People can own weapons, but have to keep them in special facilities at ranges, where they can play with them more safely. If you have a child in your house and you have a gun in it, that's the same as if you have an intentionally malfunctioning gas stove and no alarm fitted. It's the same as having no child-gate on your stairs. It's the same as leaving your toddler in the car unattended, or letting him/her play in a room with a violent breed of dog, or alone at the side of an un-fenced pool. You go to court for just having a gun and your child in the same house! It's got to be looked into as a risk factor at medical encounters, when deciding who should be able to adopt, who should pay more for their home insurance, knowing how guns attract crime. Etc...

People have got to be made embarrassed about tolerating guns. It's got to be thought of as something that under-developed societies are trying to evolve out of.

And, as someone mentioned, getting politicians to...

Forget about it!

You cannot "vote" your way out of this one in the USA. Democracy only works when it's the most powerful force in a society and it is no longer that in the USA. Certain organisations/companies/people are so wealthy and financially strong that they can overpower democracy. They can BUY the legislation which suits them. The NRA and gun lobby and their financial backers are not the only such "lobby". But let's all remember the good news - the tobacco industry was one such as well and is no more. We CAN solve this - what is doing it for smoking is the culture change. So many people have been "embarrassed out of smoking"... Inconvenienced... Charged more for insurance... The change started not such a long time ago and is still on-going, but the words "cigarettes are bad for you" is no longer the main tool of this job. It's things like forcing smokers out of public places, or the disgusted expression you accidentally fail to hide when you smell smoke on someone's breath.

Having said all that, I am 100% confident that this problem will be solved, even in the USA. Rest assured, thousands of health professionals and other citizens of so many countries are ready to support the change in the USA when it begins. Good luck!

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