Whipping up fear

So an American mom, Lindy West, published an op-ed piece in the Guardian about gun control and the Florida mom shot by her toddler.  Two quotes caught my eye:

Growing up here myself didn’t prepare me for how distinctly, viscerally frightening it would be to raise children in a gun-obsessed nation. My step-daughters go to school in a borderline-rural suburb, whereas I was educated in central Seattle. They already know of at least one friend-of-a-friend who was killed in a school shooting. Many of their friends’ parents are gun owners. … When we send our kids to friends’ houses for sleepovers, it sometimes feels like a leap of faith.

and

And I’m supposed to believe that frightened Syrian refugees – or whomever becomes the next rightwing scapegoat du jour – are the real threat to my children? I’m supposed to be afraid of sharks? Heavy metal music? Violent video games? Horse meat in my hamburger patties? Teenagers pouring vodka up their butts?

I’m pretty sure she is letting media manufactured fear, rather than any kind of reason or research, dominate her list of real dangers.

First of all, “already know of at least one…killed in a school shooting”? Really?  Counting both colleges and high schools, there have been less than 20 people (not just students) killed each of the last 2 years, according to Wikipedia (I don’t think they are pro-gun, are they?).

On the other hand, the CDC reports around 110 kids 15-24 killed by alcohol poisoning every year.  So, yeah, vodka up the butt should be scarier.

And these are hardly the big threats.  What are the biggest threats to our teenagers?  Car accidents (2,200)Suicide (1,700).  Homicide is next, followed by cancer.  Surely the homicide number includes gun deaths, as does suicide.  And we should work to reduce all of these numbers.  But hysteria will not help.

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