The graphic on Saturday’s page A22 (TNT, 7-21) entitled “U.S. mass shootings since 1999” painted a grim picture of gun violence, and will undoubtedly foster (intentionally or otherwise) the anti-gun agenda of the Brady Campaign from which the graphic originated. My heart goes out to the families of all of the victims. This was indeed a senseless tragedy.
But those statistics are misleading.
Perhaps a better graphic would have been to overlay the mass shootings (which totaled 207 for those 14 years) with the number of people killed by drunk drivers during a 14-year period from 1997-2010. Readers might be shocked to learn that 569,300 people were killed in the U.S. during that similar time period, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To put it another way, that’s almost three times the population of Tacoma.
While the staggering difference between these statistics is no consolation for the surviving families, it helps put into perspective the scope of the tragedy. The problem is that so many people succumb to drunk driving each year it no longer makes the news. All of these deaths — regardless of their cause — are senseless. However, the media has an obligation to keep events in perspective.
No doubt this massacre will stir up more anti-gun sentiment and provide rationalization for why guns are so evil. Maybe it’s time to put as much energy and news coverage into dealing with our drunk driving epidemic, which is a significantly bigger problem.