Being Shot With a Gun is Now the Leading Cause of Death for Children in America
This piece is dedicated to the memory of Ana Grace Marquez Greene, a beautiful child I watched grow up as part of my extended jazz music family before she was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School, shot by someone who’s name isn’t worth remembering… but doomed to die by our permissive attitude towards political gun violence profiteers and enthusiasts.
I originally wrote the following dark satire about the predictable nature of “firearm related death”… before the following data was presented, this past week, at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and thus came to my attention.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, children being shot to death is now the leading cause of death for children in the United States of America. It’s not a leading cause of death. It’s the number one leading cause of death. Number one. With a bullet. And that’s both a terrible pun and literally true. And, I understand it was painful to read something that terrible, but it’s even more painful to be shot with a literal bullet. 10 out of 10 kids agree.
Want to know how you can tell something is a Public Health emergency? When it becomes the leading cause of death.
We Have Left “Doctors Don’t Talk About Politics” Territory, Definitively
Everything doctors for kids do includes:
Pediatric surgeons dealing with life-threatening cancer
Emergency medicine doctors saving children from drowning
Child psychiatry, inclusive
Every addiction treatment to prevent overdose death
Accidental poisoning reduction
Cardiology for rare but fatal cardiomyopathies
Covid-19 🦠 and other infectious disease management
Seat belts and traffic safety education
Burn care in the burn-trauma intensive care unit
Every acute asthma attack managed in the pediatric intensive care unit
Every congenital abnormality fixed
Robustly and regularly looking both ways when kids cross the street
All of those things are not the most important work for reducing mortality in children. Literally every other thing every pediatricians do is less important than dealing with this problem. At least when it comes to the absolute number of dead kids.
No, I’m not kidding. But, because America is as peculiar as it is, I am essentially left with extremely limited resources with which to push back on this problem. In my case, I’m going to use writing, and satire, to make fun of how common this problem is. Because this Substack is where I’m trying to save lives by convincing people to act differently, to think differently, and to make different choices. And right now, this struggle is around changing behavior. This is the battle for kids’ lives. And therefore, this very grim, barely funny piece of satire is basically all I’ve got to deal with the problem. So I’m gonna do my best with that:
Satire, as a Public Health Intervention
A child psychiatrist reflects, in advance, about the next preventable mass shooting that will rock our nation to the core.
The nation, yet again, is reeling, after the tragic events in x town/city. Although it is too soon to have a full understanding of what happened, we do know that the families of the children/adults who were senselessly gunned down are grieving in a way few of us can imagine/so many of us know too well.
From what we know about the shooter at this time, he spent weeks/months planning the attack, and we do know he purchased the assault rifle/s legally, as well as the hollow point bullets that caused such horrible wounds. These purchases were made despite his history of disturbing statements and threats, both online and in real life.
Yet again, high-capacity magazines allowed one young man, between the ages of 16 and 26, to take his isolation and rage and turn it into a storm of lead, against which the innocent victims stood no chance. The standoff with the police doubtless took more time given that he was also equipped with tactical body armor, which prevented even the armor piercing bullets of the hand guns of the responding officers from taking him down before more death and destruction could be caused.
In the end, he either took his own life, or was shot by responding officers/well-armed heroes.
The young white man in question had a history of mental illness/suspicion of mental illness and had participated in violent video games/online message boards. He left a number of videos/a manifesto, posted immediately before the attack. In this publication, he expressed his anger over a world that didn’t allow him to succeed thanks to his constant rejection by women/people of color. One thing was clear, he was going to make all of them pay, and people would remember whoever this guy was.
A classmate from a few years prior recalled “he definitely was pretty obsessed with guns, I am not surprised he’s the one to do this. This totally checks out.”
The close-knit community of whatever town or city this shooting happened in gathered near the sight of the violence afterwards, to leave handmade memorials to the dozen or so who died at the hands of the shooter. Parents of the fallen expressed their disbelief/their complete resignation over the predictable fact that their child could’ve been killed in this way: “It’s about time law makers do something, this killing is senseless, and we’ve had enough!” said one father.
A doctor in the local hospital commented that the efforts in the trauma bay were like a war zone, and despite their best efforts, more died after the fact. “Even with all of our knowledge after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we simply didn’t have to deal with multiple bullet wounds with coming out of those theaters of war. These devastating injuries—they are on another level.”
A spokesperson for the NRA was reached, and offer the following statement: “This is America, and the NRA staunchly supports the reduction of gun violence through the addition of more guns into the hands of more good guys. If only a good guy with a gun have been present/had been more able to aim accurately/had more well armed officers been present, this tragedy could’ve been avoided. It’s about time we focus on the mental health crisis that is driving this violence and the lack of armed responders to dangerous mentally ill people. If it wasn’t for the mentally ill and the lack of suppressive fire, all of this would be fine. God bless America!”
The republican governor of the state in which x city/town is located spoke on the steps of the capital: “This senseless tragedy highlights how fragile life is, and how much we need to blame the mentally ill and the broken system that cannot proactively identify them and target them with suppressive fire from the nearly 400,000,000 current firearms deployed throughout the United States.”
This time, clearly, given the scope of the tragedy, it will be different, and meaningful change is definitely going to happen thanks to the actions of brave lawmakers representing this locality.
—O. Scott Muir, M.D. written, July 18, 2022. Since that time, many, more children have been shot and injured or killed.
This is the list of all the incidents of children 0-11 being killed or injured by shooting between when this was first written and now:
In a sensible world, hundreds of shot children—in just the past few months alone—wouldn’t be just a footnote. But this is not data from a sensible world. This is America…and it’s all red states now… it just happens to be red with the blood of our children.