Dear Gun Control Advocates:
Relax. I am not going to debate you on the merits of gun control. I know you have your statistics and data points you claim support your position; you know that I have mine. I won't try to convince you that my position makes more sense (although if I could take you to the gun range for an hour and let you shoot some of the guns in my collection, I suspect I could debunk many of the things you've been told about guns over the years.)
Instead, I want to talk with you about something other than guns.
I know some in the gun rights movement may not always be the most charming when it comes to making their point. I even dedicated a chapter touching on that very thing in Pivot Points. Specifically, I wrote:
"For preppers who are strong supporters of the Second Amendment, we need to make sure we do not inadvertently dissuade someone from joining our preparedness efforts because they disagree with us on the need for an armed citizenry. We need those who may not share our position on firearm ownership to join our efforts to build a culture of readiness; we cannot afford to alienate them.
"Remember that everyone has a different pivot point that will cause them to plot a course towards better readiness. Your pivot point will likely be different than theirs. As long as we are getting to the same destination – a better prepared community, ready to meet a variety of perils – it’s not that important as to how we get there or why we’re motivated to do so."
Many in the preparedness movement believe guns are simply a tool - a tool by which we can be better prepared for a variety of problems that might come our way. Note that it's not imperative that you agree with the logic or wisdom that statement, although I think it is helpful for you to know that belief system permeates the preparedness culture. Personally, I don't believe you have to be a "gun person" to be a prepper - being prepared for a local or regional emergency involves far more than owning guns and ammo.
But enough about guns. Let's talk about preparedness.
I read your websites and blogs quite often. And for a moment, I am going to assume your data regarding the number of Americans who want more gun control laws are correct. Here are a couple of things I've learned that your organizations claim:
Given the stated priority of safety in our communities, I was surprised to learn that the Brady Campaign's website search results for the term "first aid" yielded zero results. Meanwhile, the Everytown for Gun Safety page entitled "Act" has a number of suggestions to "build safer communities" and "fight for the changes that we know will save lives," yet none of them suggest making any effort to learn first aid or CPR.
I can hear your groans from here. "Oh come on, Paul - do you really expect gun control advocates to spend their time telling people to take first aid classes?"
Actually, yeah, I do expect any organization urging safety to urge its members to be ready to provide help to others and help make things safer.
Permit me some latitude in making my case. According to the American Heart Association,
And as it often urged from the gun control community, we should model our "safety" laws and culture after European nations. Speaking of learning lessons from our European colleagues, the American Red Cross provides this sobering assessment on how Team USA measures up:
"In Europe...first aid training is required for people who drive, work in industrial settings and care for children in many countries.
"This bold approach means that Europeans are better prepared than most for a roadside accident, household emergency or workplace disaster. For example, the survey showed 95 percent of the population in Norway is trained in first aid. Close behind are Germany and Austria with 80 percent. And Iceland can boast that 75 percent of its people are trained."
When you consider that homicide deaths from firearms in 2013 (11,208), per Table 18 of the CDC annual report are less than those death tolls from unintentional falls (30,208), machinery (37,427), traffic accidents (33,804), and poisoning (48,545), I would think that any organization urging increased safety measures would be leading the charge to teach kids first aid in schools and adults in the work place.
So here is my challenge, gun control advocates - take a page from the NRA playbook and encourage your members to make first aid training a priority. If you truly want to make your effort about safety, then urge your team to learn how to handle the wide variety of dangers in the real world, most of which have nothing to do with guns.
You'll hear no criticism from us on that issue in doing so. We do not have to agree on the issue of guns in order to make other efforts in safety in America.
Paul T. Martin
Here's where I tell you what I think about things I think about.