Last week, four year-old Kendal Lewis was playing in her mother’s car in DeKalb County, Georgia, when she found a handgun and shot herself while playing with it. The week before, an eight year-old girl in Baltimore was shot and killed by her elder brother. These were two of 688 children under the age of 12 killed or injured by firearms already this year.
Projecting that rate for the full year indicates the total will be above 1,100 – the highest ever.
Small children shot is one of many categories of escalating fatalities in which the United States of America has now become a shameful outlier in the developed world.
The number of small children shot so far this year totals one in Australia, Canada and Denmark, and none in Japan, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Spain, Poland, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway.
The gruesome facts and figures
Hate crime murders and manslaughters, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are those ‘motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity.’
While numbers have historically been low, there has recently been a dramatic escalation. See grey chart, above.
Mass shootings also reached an all-time high last year of 691 and are on track towards a similar tally this year. See blue and white chart, below.
Multiple fields of killing
Other areas of preventable gun deaths, besides children shot, teenagers shot and random mass shootings, include police officers shot on duty, health care and social workers shot at work and school shootings.
The reality that the USA is ‘exceptional’ in all these categories is seen starkly in country comparisons. These are the comparative numbers of police shot on duty since January 2021:
New Zealand: 0
South Korea: 0
Other areas of mortality in which the USA is in a class of its own include Covid-19 fatalities, deaths from other preventable illnesses, fatalities during political protests, farmer suicides following loss of markets, total suicides, suspects killed by police, deaths in custody and murders and manslaughters by means other than guns.
Causes of despair and death
Factors underlying these grisly outcomes are multiple, complex and often difficult to discern. Individual acts of violence are usually associated with drug abuse, poverty, hatred, racial prejudice, mental illness or the alienation of troubled youth. But all countries have citizens experiencing these human conditions. Why is it only in the USA that these lead to deaths in such extreme numbers?
Is there a link between the escalating killings since 2015 and the rise in political intolerance?
Trump’s calls to personal physical violence
Donald Trump is the only national leader in any post-war liberal democracy to have specifically urged his followers to engage in immediate physical violence against political opponents. This is almost certainly one significant cause of the deepening dysfunction.
Yes, there are other factors. But this one can be fixed. Mainstream Republicans must repudiate Trumpian violence clearly and finally. Some have already. Those that haven’t must do so now.
This is an abbreviated version of an article published today in IndependentAustralia. The original article is available here in full for free:
“Alan Austin is a great Australian journalist and,
I think, a pirate. I steal Alan Austin’s findings all the time.”
~ Jordan Shanks
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.