The Prompt 2: Saddened

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The Prompt 2: Saddened


In all honesty, there are many things that sadden me; we live in a world with huge inequalities, terrible poverty, fear and violence. In my own small corner of that world the thought of my children being hurt, emotionally or physically, fills me with a knot of fear and misery that makes it hard to breathe.

I am an emotional person, given to tears at films, books, even adverts. I cannot bear distress, I cannot understand vindictiveness, I cannot fathom what would lead someone to deliberately cause suffering.

I hear stories of loss and of pain, and I share the sadness. I watch the news and I am unable to comprehend that people are capable of causing so much sorrow. And, I watch in horror when that suffering is inflicted on a child (this has always been the case, but I find I am far more affected and more profoundly saddened now that I am a parent).

But, what saddens me most is avoidable, unnecessary pain.

Last Thursday a four year in Detroit shot, and killed, her four year old cousin after finding a gun in her grandparents house. This is just the latest in a stream of news stories since we moved the US involving children shooting other children; of children having access to unsecured guns. One tragedy after another.

Back in December last year, I wrote a post following the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown. I admitted in that post that I did not feel that it was my place to comment on American gun laws, or politics. I am not American, and I do not fully understand the intricacies of the US political or legal systems, much less US gun laws. However, as a mother I wrote:

…I cannot accept the ease with which guns are available, I cannot accept that this is a ‘right’, I cannot accept that this right is more important than children’s lives.

At the time, the news was full of harrowing statistics. But the one that stuck with me was this; ‘a child is 13 times more likely to die of gunshot wounds in the US than in any other developed country’. I have, of course, done a lot of reading before writing this post; to clarify/confirm statistics like the one above. The presentation of the statistics on gun ownership and gun related deaths varies from one publication to another, as you would expect and as is the way with statistics – you must always read and interpret them with care.

There are a few numbers that have recurred though.

It is estimated that 30-35% of Americans own a gun(s). The per capita estimate is 88 guns per 100 persons, putting the US at the top of the scale, worldwide. (1&2)

In 2008 67% of murders in the US involved a firearm. (2)

Based on a CDC (Centre for Disease Control) study back in 1997 studying data from the US and 25 other wealthy, developed nations, the gun related death rate for children under 15 in the US was nearly 12 times higher than all the other countries combined. (2)

Based on data gathered between 2003 and 2007 (3):
Children aged 5-14 are 11 times more likely to be killed accidentally by firearms in the US than in other developed countries
Children aged 5-14 are 13 times more likely to be killed intentionally by firearms in the US than in other developed countries

As if these statistics weren’t enough, there are the harrowing stories, like the one of the two four year olds above.

The five year old who shot his two year old sister with his own gun (yes, you read that correctly, his own gun – in one of the articles I have linked below you will find reference to the company that sells My First Rifle; it comes in a variety of colours including pink and blue). (4)

The nine year old playing outside who was shot by a 13 year old who mishandled an unsecured weapon. (5)

The two year old who killed himself with his fathers handgun. (5)

The bare statistics anger me. The stories behind these statistics sadden me beyond measure. The devastation brought into people’s lives, events that they will never fully recover from. Loss, grief, pain – all so unnecessary, so pointless, so unjustifiable.

There is nothing that makes these stories acceptable.

I often hear the phrase ‘but guns don’t kill people, people do’ and this is correct – but a gun in the hands of a child?

I still feel that any comment I make on gun ownership in the US must be heavily caveated: I am not American, I have not grown up here, I cannot pretend to understand such strong cultural and historical influences – I am British, this issue is not something I have had to grapple with before. But, right now, I live here and my family, my children, are surrounded by guns. This makes me uncomfortable at best, fearful at worst.

However, anger and disbelief at US Gun Control laws aside, mostly I am saddened by this reflection on society – what have we become, that we would put our own (questionable) right to bear arms ahead of all the statistics that demonstrate that this right doesn’t protect us? In fact, quite the opposite.

It harms us, it harms our children. It devalues our society. It brings great sadness to those involved; it should bring sadness to all of us.

References:
(1) Just Facts – Gun Control
(2) Daily Kos – Statistics, Guns and Wishful Thinking
(3) Minn Post – The health risk of having a gun in the home
(4) Washington Times Communities – Do children really need pink and blue guns
(5) Mother Jones – At least 194 children have been shot to death since Newtown

If you have been inspired to write by this prompt, I would love it if you would link up. I can’t wait to read your posts!

There are a few rules…
1. Link up a new post inspired by The Prompt (although, if you have an old post that fits perfectly, I’d love to read it)
2. Please use the badge on your post or in your sidebar to guide others to the linky. I will of course share your post on Twitter in return.
3. Please visit as many others in the linky as you can – comments and encouragement are what make linkys work :)

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You may have noticed that I have managed to go self-hosted, change my URL and rebrand The Prompt since last week! Please use the new badge so that it links to my new site :)

The linky will remain open until Thursday evening, so there is plenty of time to link up.

And, please come back on Sunday for the next Prompt!


I’ve linked this post up with #PoCoLo at Verily Victoria Vocalises.

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39 thoughts on “The Prompt 2: Saddened”

  1. Well done on your move, missed this again, will pop by Sunday for next weeks prompt as I really want to join in. Such a sad fact and that statistic is very scary and worrying. Great post.

  2. Goodness, Sara. You have just, very eloquently, echoed my sentiments. I am at a complete loss of words to express exactly what I feel after reading your piece. Suffice to say there is a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye xx

  3. This is horrifying. I just cannot understand how so many people in the US still think that it is right for guns to be readily available. And for a gun to be marketed for and aimed at children? Makes me shudder. I don’t understand and I don’t think I ever will. Fantastic post xx

  4. Oh honey those are some scary stats :( What a tragic event, awful and as you said totally unnecessary!

    Surely if you were going to have guns in the house, you should keep them away from your children? And also educate them about their danger? My 23mo already knows that she isn’t allowed to touch the knives when she’s helping me in the kitchen. My 4yo was the same, and before she was two she knew what she could touch and what she couldn’t. I know it’s not quite the same as a gun, but the lesson is. Teaching a child what they are and aren’t allowed to do when it comes to danger is invaluable…

    1. Absolutely, and I am sure that many, parents do just that. But from reading the news, there are still far too many unsecured weapons left where children can reach them. Having said that, the safest thing is for the gun not to be in the house at all..!

  5. Kriss @OverthertoHere

    It is horrific the amount of gun violence in the US and it’s effect on children. I remember researching and helping organise a week long NBC News special airing on all their news shows on the effects of gun violence back in the 90s but still the statistics just grow. One of the problems here is the power of the NRA lobbyists who think it’s an American’s right to have guns according to the constitution. Well I don’t think it’s a right for a child to have one or be killed by one. Many other Americans feel the same. I was hoping to join in the Prompt this week (sorry was unable to as finally finishing a UK course assignment that needs to be sent in by Monday!) and the topic I wanted to write about was lockdown drills. Because of the proliferation of guns in the US now our kids here have to practice lockdown drills, not just fire drills, in schools.
    Brilliant post with a very important message,

    1. The more I read the statistics, the more horrified I am. Of course the constitution is mentioned frequently, but I really think we’re a bit past the need for an armed militia! Lockdown drills freak me out, I know they have to do them (which is horrific in itself) but having to practice hiding from the ‘bad thing’ (often a skunk or a snake is used as an example here) is terrifying. Both my boys need to do them; practicing hiding at 4yo… Awful. These drills are on my ‘expat experiences’ list to write about at some point!

  6. It’s interesting to read all these opinions because it seems that the gun lobby has such a strong voice I assume there is great support for them in the US.

    My aunt lives in Houston and her adult daughter has a gun. My aunt hates it but her husband is all for their daughter being able to defend yourself, so what can you do?

    1. I imagine it depends hugely on where you live. I think we’re fairly lucky where we are, but I have had a few awkward conversations. In NM where my sister is, I just wouldn’t bring the subject up…

  7. Like you, I cry at pretty much everything!! And like you, I am horrified by the gun law and lack of responsibility with weapons in America. I don’t think I will ever get it. I love the idea of this linky and hope to be there next week :) Thank you for linking to PoCoLo x

  8. Those statistics are just gut-wrenchingly awful. I just cannot comprehend why parents would not take more care with such a deadly item i.e. keep it under lock and key and I am literally stunned at the idea of a ‘my first rifle’ – cultural and historical elements aside I cannot comprehend why a parent would ever consider that to be a suitable purchase for a CHILD. You have written this so eloquently.

  9. Sorry, I’m very late linking up but I’m here! I cannot understand the need or want to own a firearm, it baffles me beyond belief. I’m so glad it is not part of our culture to do so and I’m saddened that it is part of others however.

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