Sunday, January 6, 2013

Time to Cover the Real Crime Scene: Congress

Asking the simple, direct question is so simple.   Why aren't more local reporters doing it?

Health and safety experts have done all kinds of research on the dangers and risks posed by automobiles.   As a result, there's been knowledge applied to reduce the risk and save lives.

Guns?  Thousands die every year from guns.  From a health and safety and societal standpoint, any reasonable person, even one with no scientific research background, would agree that it makes sense to examine the issues surrounding gun deaths just as we've studied and analyzed automobile deaths.   But no, that's not done.   That area of inquiry is not allowed.  Congress voted to prohibit such research by the CDC.  

As the viewpoint article in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Doctors Kellermann and Rivara points out, gun research has been silenced.   One primary contributing factor is the silence of the press.    

Why did your member of Congress vote for or against the measure?   Try to find that in your local newspaper or local television station.   If it's not there, write to the corporate owners of the paper and TV station and ask why?    Here are a couple of notable paragraphs from the JAMA article and a caution for viewers of FOX NEWS.  The following paragraphs contain facts.

"Injury prevention research can have real and lasting effects. Over the last 20 years, the number of Americans dying in motor vehicle crashes has decreased by 31%.1 Deaths from fires and drowning have been reduced even more, by 38% and 52%, respectively.1 This progress was achieved without banning automobiles, swimming pools, or matches. Instead, it came from translating research findings into effective interventions.

Given the chance, could researchers achieve similar progress with firearm violence? It will not be possible to find out unless Congress rescinds its moratorium on firearm injury prevention research. Since Congress took this action in 1997, at least 427 000 people have died of gunshot wounds in the United States, including more than 165 000 who were victims of homicide.1 To put these numbers in context, during the same time period, 4586 Americans lost their lives in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.10

The United States has long relied on public health science to improve the safety, health, and lives of its citizens. Perhaps the same straight  forward, problem-solving approach that worked well in other circumstances can help the nation meet the challenge of firearm violence. Otherwise, the heartache that the nation and perhaps the world is feeling over the senseless gun violence in Newtown will likely be repeated, again and again."

Local television reporters cover shooting after shooting after shooting.   It's time they actually cover the real crime scene:  Congress.

When journalism fails, bad things happen.


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