Letter to the editor – Dale Hanaman

Letter to the editor,

On Wednesday (3/29) I heard on NPR that President Trump is establishing a Commission on Addictive Crisis due to the overwhelming opioid epidemic in our nation. Also noted were 91 deaths daily due to opioid addiction.

So returning home I checked NBCNews Online to verify this. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who will chair this commission, said “What we need to come to grips with is [this] addiction is a disease and no life is disposable.” He also said his state is grappling with a rise of drug overdose deaths, which has surpassed murders and automobile accidents. Deaths from overdoses of opioids, which include prescription painkillers as well as heroin, have reached epidemic status, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy in a landmark report in November 2016 called substance abuse disorders “one of the most pressing crises of our time”, and said 90 % of people with a substance abuse disorder are not getting treatment.

Hopefully this commission will provide guidance for tackling prevention, treatment and recovery from this deadly substance abuse.

And then I started thinking – “I wonder how many people are killed by guns daily. So I found the website everytownresearch.org which said that “on an average day, 93 Americans are killed with guns”. But I find no National Commission focused on gun violence! Why do you suppose this is the case?

Some other statistics from this same website are VERY alarming. “On average there are nearly 12,000 gun homicides a year in our nation.” “For every one person killed by guns, two more are injured.” “62 percent of firearm deaths in the US are suicides.” “Seven children and teens are killed by guns daily.” “In an average month 50 women are shot to death by intimate partners in the United States.” “America’s gun homicide rate is more than 25 times the average of other developed countries.” “Background checks have blocked nearly 3 million gun sales to prohibited people.” “BLACK MEN are 14 times more likely than white men to be shot and killed with guns.” “The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increased the risk of the woman being shot and killed by five times.”

But where is the outrage in our nation? In Iowa? In Greene County? Where is the presidential commission to deal with this epidemic of gun violence? Why have we as citizens of the United States not demanded that this out of control national crisis be met head on?

In an article from The Washington Post, by Todd C. Frankel, January 15, 2015 then President Obama ordered the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention to get back to studying “the causes of gun violence.” Mr Frankel writes that “the CDC has not touched firearm research since 1996 – when the National Rifle Association (NRA) accused the agency of promoting gun control and Congress threatened to strip the agency of funding.”

So the gun lobby is very strong. Congress does little to challenge the NRA. Yet, don’t we need to confront these deaths due to guns violence? Neither mass shootings of children nor shootings of police officers and often young black men seem to raise the specter of this terrible taking of life by gun violence.

Ninety-one people a day dying from opioid use is enough to set up a National Commission. Ninety-three people a day dying from gun violence is not enough to establish an equally important commission. How many people need to die daily of gun violence for we citizens of the US to open our eyes and say – we are in grave danger!?

Dale Hanaman, Rippey, IA dale.hanaman [at] gmail [dot] com

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