American Expat Terrified Of Coming Home. Because Guns.

Kate Lewis is an expert who’s been living with her family in Japan for the last two years for her husband’s job. But now they’ll be coming home to America soon and she’s realized something.

I never really knew that I had a day-to-day fear I carried in my heart living in America until we moved away. …

What exactly does she mean by “day-to-day fear?” She gives us a few examples:

… coworkers and I would share our active-shooter escape plans with each other …

… friends would admit they now choose seats nearest the back doors of restaurants and bars, in order to make a quick getaway if necessary …

… this ever-present terror of my family dying in a gun massacre, of whether or not I could shield my 2-year-old son from rapid-fire bullets …

Now let me say that I have the utmost compassion for Ms. Lewis; fear like that is a horrible thing to live with. However, I must ask: Has Kate sought professional treatment for her debilitating phobia? I can hear someone in the back saying, “There’s nothing irrational about not wanting to be gunned down by complete strangers!” This is true, but it is also irrelevant.

What Ms. Lewis describes is a fear of some random “gun massacre,” not a specific threat of violence. According to this Washington Post piece, as of May 22, 2018 there have been 152 mass shootings with 1,091 deaths since August of 1966. That is 152 such shootings in over 50 years or about three shootings per year and an average of just over 21 deaths per year.

But let’s leave that aside for the moment and allow Ms. Lewis to explain the rational reasons for her bowel-clenching terror:

 Japan’s approach to regulating guns has created a society where gun violence is almost nonexistent, with just six deaths from guns across the entire country in 2014.

Yeah, no. Japan’s gun regulations have little or nothing to do with the generally law-abiding nature of their society. Indeed, while their gun-related homicide rate is indeed miniscule (running 0.01/100,000 annually) their overall homicide rate is also amazingly low.

From 2004 – 2013 they averaged 0.49 per 100,000. In the U.S., on the other hand, the non-firearm related homicide rate in that period was 1.78, or more than three times the total Japanese rate. And from 2003 – 2012, that paragon of low crime (and strict gun control), the U.K., averaged 1.38 homicides per 100,000.

You also must wonder if Ms. Lewis would be willing to see suicides in the U.S. increase by 36,753 annually in order to prevent all 14,482-gun related homicides. That same voice in the back is saying, “How does that work?”

It’s simple. Again, according to the WaPo, Japan’s suicide rate, although it has been dropping in recent years, is still almost double that of the U.S. (19.4 in Japan vs. 10.1 in the U.S.). So, if we got rid of our guns and imported Japanese culture, we could look forward to losing 2.5 times as many lives to suicide as are currently lost to “gun murders.”

I know, some will argue that if we get rid of our guns, then gun suicides will go away too. To those people I say, “Canada.” When Canada passed their draconian gun laws a few years er, a few decades ago their gun-related suicide rate did indeed drop precipitously, a fact civilian disarmament advocates make much of while ignoring the fact that Canada’s overall suicide rate actually increased.

Ms. Lewis goes on to compare the wonders of Japan to the horror that was her day-to-day life in the U.S.:

I wasn’t scanning every grocery store for its nearest exits as I shopped with my toddler son and newborn daughter, or standing on the fringes of a crowd at concerts, or wearing sneakers to the local playground solely so I could more easily grab my children and run for all of our lives if I had to. …

I’m dreading returning to a place where seven kids are shot and killed every day. …

Again, I say no. Per the Centers for Disease Control, between 2007 and 2016 an average of 236 “kids”[1] died annually from gun related homicides or accidents. That works out to 0.64 per day. Even including suicides (which are mostly preventable and not the gun’s fault) that totals 286 kids annually or 0.78 per day.

To reach that figure of seven kids-per-day (2,555 annually) you must include suicides, and legal intervention, and 14-year-olds. Oh, and 15-year-olds, 16-year-olds, 17-year-olds, 18-year-olds and 506 19-year-olds.

Ms. Lewis says that when she gets home she will join the Parkland survivors in demanding policies to keep everyone’s kids safe. I know that guns are scary, but if you want to work for change, instead of worrying about the 12,000 or so gun-related homicides annually, how about the 28,390 deaths from accidental falls each year? Or the 38,500 accidental poisonings annually? Or the 17,000+ suffocations? Or the 19,700 non-firearm suicides each year?

Better still Ms. Lewis, why don’t you work to reduce the up to 440,000 annual deaths due to medical mistakes and malpractice. That’s an effort like that would really make a lot more Americans safer. Just a thought.

[1] I define kids as human people from birth through puberty, or 0 – 13 years old.

This article was originally posted here.
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