The nation’s focus on gun violence is misdirected

February 26, 2018

Ron Arnoldsen


This opinion piece will stir the “pot” and will have some saying I am bizarre. However, I choose to think that I have vision and the rest of the country wears bifocals.

I am somewhat amazed that folks are so focused on gun violence. It would seem to me that those parents that are concerned about their children not coming home from school due to an active shooter should also be very concerned about their children losing their life to drugs. They are more likely to be introduced to drugs in school than be shot.

More people die of drug related deaths each year than gun violence.

Losing their life doesn’t only mean dying, they can lose their potential, their hopes, their family, and their jobs due to drug addiction. In short, a life is wasted and lost.

How many children say they want to be an alcoholic or drug addict when they grow up? They want to be firefighters, police officers, play professional sports, doctors, computer programmers etc.
Their hopes, ambition and futures are snatched from them due to alcohol and drug use. They have lost their lives and dreams. Here is a bumper sticker you will never see, “I am the proud parent of an alcoholic/drug addict?”

Everyone I know has a friend, relative or friend of a friend who has lost the potential of a good life due to drugs. I do not know of a friend, relative or friend of a friend who has lost their child to gun violence (I know I am probably lucky). But we all know someone who has wasted their life through addiction.

We deplore the fact someone’s loved one loses their life randomly to violence. However, we embrace drugs and alcohol even though they randomly take our loved ones lives daily.

Yes, marijuana is the savior of our state. It will generate a great deal of tax revenue and bring prosperity to the general funds of all government agencies. I know I am bazar. But where is your outrage over the loss of your children’s potential? Where are the mothers against drug sales and abuse?

What is the underlying cause of homelessness, the huge number of individuals in prison and our mental health facilities? I am bizarre enough to think there is a very large correlation with substance abuse.

We are focused on the guns and not the mental health of the individuals who are behind them. Where are the mothers who advocate for greater mental health awareness programs?

Where are the mothers who will take a stand against substance abuse and the violence and death associated with it? Are our politicians whores for grabbing the money associated with legal drugs and disregarding the cost of abuse?

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If there is no demand for drugs there wouldn’t be a problem. Wouldn’t need to worry about pushers , dealers , crazies trying to get them. Maybe education might put a dent in that. My point is someone welding a gun and shooting people is in my opinion a much greater immediate threat to people and something which you have little control over. Drug dealer and go on campus and offer drugs to kids, kids have a choice to take them or not, in Florida those kids who got shot had no choice. I do agree with the Ron’s point about mental heath and mental heath awareness, that is important and could possibly help both problems. Gun violence ( mass shootings) has just gone insane in the last decade. Drug abuse is actually down.

You are right that illicit drugs are problem. So is distracted driving, and any number of things that take away young people’s lives.

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to fix the problem of children being murdered while they attend school, by a crazy person brandishing a deadly weapon.

Drunk Drivers kill thousands of innocent people a year…..

Hand guns kill thousands of innocent people a year……

Accidental Medical Deaths kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people per year……

‘assault rifles’ kill a few hundred a year….

If we really care about people dying by the hands of others let’s have this serious conversation. I don’t need alcohol, hand guns, or bad doctors thus neither do you. Since it’s clear we americans are not responsible enough to enjoy these pleasures of life, lets ban them. Until we do…..perhaps we have the red herring discussion about assault rifles later.

Why is it that when this “debate” comes up it’s always deflected to drugs? Why can’t we stick to the subject matter, guns? Is it that uncomfortable or is it that there is no real reason for our kids dying at the behest of bullets and no argument can be made?

“Whataboutism” has found a place in our politics, it’s insidious and counterproductive, and to have a place in the debate on real gun control doubles down on that fact.

Let’s agree to talk about guns, specifically semi-automatic ones designed for warfare, that can and often are turned into fully automatic, and their place, if there is one, in our society.

We’ve talked about mental health and drug abuse and the right seems content to cut funds for services and programs for both, so why are they even considered as an alternative to real gun control? You under fund programs geared to help folks that you say are the “real” problem and then bring them up whenever real gun control comes up? What the hell? You can’t have it both ways folks!

AR-15’s and the like are not protected by the 2nd Amendment so lets start there and work our way to getting these kid killers off the streets.

I think that you may be wrong. We do need to have both. These shooters are not mentally stable and that needs to be addressed. And yes there needs to be some type of adjustment in acquiring some type of firearms. Everyone needs to come together and quit picking sides or else nothing will happen.

Yes, we do need to have both conversations, but let’s have one at a time! Jumbling one into the other only confuses the issue. Mental health issues are here to stay, AR-15’s and the like don’t have to be!

CentralcoastRN brings up a valid point; the CDC is allowed to study the health effects that just about anything has on our society but is banned by law to study the effects of gun violence in the same context, why is that?

Because if AR-15’s are made illegal the criminals will just give theirs up because they don’t want to be criminals???????

You use the handle AmericaTheFree quite falsely. The Second Amendment was meant to allow us to revolt against government that becomes tyrannical. You must be a ‘scholar’ of the document based on lectures on The View or some other echo chamber. Jefferson wrote these words in direct relation to the question of gun rights for citizens, ” The tree of liberty must occasionally be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.”

As for you fallacious label of semi auto firearms as ‘kid killers’ , since somewhere above 99.9% of these weapons ever made never killed a kid, you correctly label your self as an opinionated talking head-willing to repeat lies to support your poorly thought out position.

The author of this opinion piece offered you a valid point; no one does these horrific crimes that isn’t sick in the head. Alcohol and drug abuse deaden feelings toward others and are a nightmare cost to society and the mental health of around 10% of our citizens. Blame your computer for your poorly written response to him now.

So, without AR-15’s and the like, which are the guns I am talking about getting out of the hands of citizens, and are the most commonly used gun to kill our kids with lately, we’d face an insurrection of our armed forces to enslave us? You’d not stop that type of insurrection if it was seriously undertaken by the majority of those in uniform. You know that…

What about my right, and those of our kids, to live in a society based on “Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness”? How does that mix with AR-15’s readily available to even the mentally ill? I’m as American as you Noodly, I believe in the 2nd Amendment, but I know there is no place in our country’s citizenry for an AR-15 or the like.

But for you? ” The tree of liberty must occasionally be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.” is meant to mean our kids too, right? Sad commentary don’t you think!


Americans are concerned with both the issues of drugs as well as gun violence. Didn’t trump declare and echo concern of an opioid epidemic? The issue of drug use hasn’t taken a backseat, but gun violence is the pressing issue. Gun Violence is very real, very present, and very obvious. Even trump is calling meetings. It happened in our own backyard not too long ago in Isla Vista. The wrong guys are accessing ARs too easily and Americans are frankly sick of it. As an American who is all for upholding Our Second Amendment, it would be in Our best interest to protect Our American Lives by outlawing high capacity guns and hardware to decrease and/ or prevent the loss of more American lives. The NRA is not looking out for Americans, but its own financial well-being. The NRA proposes that a ban of assault rifles means a ban on all firearms which is simply not the case.

It makes absolutely no sense to assume that a law against something will stop people from doing it or obtaining it.

But we use that same non sensible assumption with drugs and alcohol, don’t we? You support those laws, right? Why? Because if it saves one kid from a lifetime of addiction is it worth it? Can’t have it both ways…

Well worked for preventing rape, human trafficking, murder, theft, child abuse, illegal drug use & sales, car theft, white collar crimes, hate crimes, poaching and the other 4,000,000 laws currently on the books….. get the picture. Fer Criminy sakes, how many more clues were needed by authorities to red flag this nutcase. Maybe the FBI should spend less time investigating Trump and do something productive. 5 armed LEO”s on site during the shooting and Cruz makes it a mile away before they bag him? Whats wrong with this picture, and you blame guns for this??

Your opinion piece is a red herring.

Why are these PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY issues and either/or situation? Why can’t mental health and gun violence be address separately and simultaneously? Have you not been to a Board of Supervisors meeting when Public Health Services were being cut so that Ian Parkinson could have a Panga boat and unicorn catcher?

We as a society need to thoroughly study gun violence in order to figure out a way to best deal with the problem. The Centers for Disease Control studies all kinds of things, and gun violence should be no different. They studied smoking, car/vehicle safety, etc. Out of those studies comes insight, public health and safety recommendations. I cannot think of a subject in which the CDC made recommendations that did not reduce death to the public.

We cannot ignore mental health issues any more than we can ignore gun violence. They are both a problem and both must be addressed.

Ron, Good letter, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Drug use has far reaching ripple effects also. Heavy drug users tend to raise some pretty difficult children. Police who should be out saving lives are wasting time and resources dealing with the stupid things druggies do. I agree drug abuse should be the number one focus of our society. It will lead to a better America for all and probably do more to reduce gun violence than any other policy.

Thank you for tellinh it like the way it is. I did a little research and between 25k to 30k teenagers die each year from drugs. Although like you mention the number has to far surpass the death rate for those who become dependent and/or mentally ill from the abuse of drugs and/or alcohol as teenagers. People need to wake up and the nation needs to have an intervention and admit that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Your column is not bizarre by any means but just the truth and there are many that can not accept the truth or take responsibility for there actions.

Not a good analogy,..drug abusers are involved in the process of their self destruction, they do have some input, nobody is forcing them at gunpoint to take them ( whether schools and society are investing enough money in education about drug abuse is another debate) . Kids getting shot to death by nuts in schools don’t have a choice. And is the NRA a whore for grabbing money associated from gun sales lobby that they disregard the deaths of our school children?

Your right about the drug abusers, but you missed the biggest part of drugs, the gangs that sell and deal in drugs,don’t forget the killing that they do to protect their turf, the meth heads that steal from family,friends and anyone they can to support their habit.