Friday, April 20, 2007

Stop Household Cleaners before They Stop You

Friday, April 20, 2007

I want to begin this article by saying that, of course, the events that unfolded at Virginia Tech this past Monday are horrifying and have touched the lives of every American, as well as people across the world. One can’t say enough about the strength of the VT community and the grief/shame of so many South Koreans, a very proud people who should not let one disturbed human being keep them from holding their heads high.

With that said, I think that it’s time to discuss (as Chris Matthews and Brain Williams felt it was appropriate to do the DAY AFTER on MSNBC – quite a tasteless move) the underlying issues behind this awful tragedy. If nothing more comes out of this massacre, we should make sure that we use it as leverage to ban all firearms. Yes, that’s right, what better event than a nationally televised mass murder, the worst in history, to catapult the anti-gun lobbyists to the forefront of national debate. Because, after all, it wasn’t a sick, uninstitutionalized, nut case who committed those 32 murders at Virginia Tech . . . it was those two handguns that did the killing!

In 2003, the National Safety Council published a statistical report entitled “What Are the Odds of Dying” in which they calculated the lifetime odds of an American citizen dying from a number of different causes [1]. Their study was based on data from National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau [2,3]. In 2003, 44,757 people perished in car accidents, 48,071 in all transportation accidents. 19,457 people died as a result of “accidental poisoning by and exposure to noxious substances” and 17,229 people died from falling, while only 11,920 people met their demise by being shot with a gun. In their study, the NSC found that the average American was over 4 times more likely to die in a transport accident than assault by firearm. The average American is about 63 % more likely to be accidentally poisoned to death and 44 % more likely to fall to their deaths than to be assaulted and killed with a firearm. Therefore, I propose that we put a ban on all automobiles, poisons (i.e. household cleaners – especially bleach, that one’s a doozy), and heights (i.e. stairs, tall buildings, cliffs – especially cliffs). I don’t like cleaning or heights much anyway. How does that sound?

I have yet to hear of a single case in which a gun jumped up off a table, pulled its own trigger, and killed somebody. For goodness sake, the problem is the people, not the guns.

[1] National Safety Council,, “What Are the Odds of Dying”,

[2] National Center for Health Statistics,

[3] U.S. Census Bureau,

Other websites of interest:



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