Hello…welcome to my town, Toms River, NJ, located right about in the middle of New Jersey and just a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean. If you were from around these parts you might tell folks that you lived off exit 82. Strangers might shake their heads and wonder where that is but plain folks from Jersey would give a chuckle and know exactly where we are.
We’ve got a main street that runs right through the middle of town, just like most towns do and the railroad tracks cut right across main street…although no one uses them anymore because trains have long since gone out of style. Most people prefer to drive their cars to get from this place to that. In fact the kids can’t hardly wait to grow up just so’s they can learn to drive too. Funny thing is though that people in this country have over 10 million automobile accidents a year…but that don’t make em’ want to stop drivin’. Nope, they just patch their cars up and themselves too if they need patchin’ and off they go again.
Of course we have rules and regulations and licenses and laws for learnin’ how to drive. Cars have to be inspected and registered too even tho I suspect it’s the drivers and not the cars that do the real damage…but anyway not a year seems to go by without the fellas up in Washington comin’ up with new rules to try and make cars and driving safer. I guess they feel that every life is an important one.
Anyway, not a person in town that I’ve ever met can say that they haven’t had a car accident. Fact is most folks have been in several and some have lost kin in those automobile mishaps but still..we here in Toms River…and New Jersey especially…love our cars and drivin’ in em’.
We’ve also got guns in my town too…but when it comes to ownin’ guns most folks have got different opinions. The great constitution of the United States says that people have a right to own them… so I guess it’s OK… but still folks got different opinions on the matter. If you were to look up the figures you’d find that we have enough guns in my town and in our country so that every man, woman and child could have one of their own but what most folks don’t know is that gun ownership is actually on the decline.
Yep, it’s true…The long-running General Social Survey, maintained at the University of Chicago, has been asking citizens about gun ownership since its inception in the 1970s and It has found that the number of people who say they have a gun in their home is at an all time low – hovering around 30 percent, from a high of 50 percent in the 1970s…folks don’t need to hunt anymore unless they want to and we’ve seen a big increase in single-adult households where it’s a safety issue…and overall there’s been a drop off in crime in my town and in most other places too.
But don’t tell that to my friend Charlie up the street because I guess he’s making up for me..you see I don’t own a gun and never have…but good old Charlie has 8 or so of this kind and that and he once told me that he had over 1,000 rounds of ammunition just in case.
When I laughed and asked, “In case of what?” Old Charlie just said, “Someday You’ll see and best that you don’t go tellin’ anyone that you don’t have a gun in your house, else the robbers and the rapers will be over in short time to have a go at you and your family.”
Of course here in my town we don’t get much robbing and raping or home invasion. Oh we have our share of crime don’t get me wrong, but most people like to go about their business and keep to themselves and are generally the friendly sort…you know, just like I expect it is in your town. Anyways, sad part of the story is that Old Charlie got even older and went into the nursing home where they don’t let you take your guns…funny thing…all that ammunition for nothin’…
I suppose guns have their usefulness although they can be the source of an awful lot of tragedy. Across the road a ways a little boy of 4 went inside his house one day and came out with his father’s gun to show his 6 year old neighbor. Well, you know how excited boys can be when it comes to guns and war and shootin’ and through a very unfortunate accident that little 6 year old boy was shot and killed…
Sadly enough over 31,000 people are killed by guns every year and about 9,000 of those unfortunate souls are the victims of homicide, which means someone meant to kill em’ but for the other two thirds…well even more sadly to say about 19,000 of those were the victims of their own suicide…and it happens like that every year. I didn’t think the number could be that high but thanks to my friend Jae I looked it up and sure enough, it’s true…but that still leaves 3,000 others who were the victims of tragic accidents like that little boy who lived across the street and just around the corner in my town.
If you don’t believe my numbers well you can always Google it, as we like to say here in my town, and you’ll find that the FBI and the UNDOC and others will back me up…and according to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health of all 50 U.S. states, there is a mighty powerful link between rates of firearm ownership and suicides. Based on a survey of American households conducted in 2002, researchers found that in states where guns were prevalent—as in Wyoming, where 63 percent of households reported owning guns—rates of suicide were higher. And the opposite was also true: where gun ownership was less common, suicide rates were also lower…so I figure that counts for something.
But getting back to those 3,000 innocent victims of gun violence every year… just a few months ago there was a horrible tragedy in a place called Sandy Hook just two states to the north of here. Seems that a disturbed young fella of about 20 or so stole his mother’s guns and went to the local grammar school where he shot and killed some teachers and little children for no apparent reason at all…but I don’t suppose one could ever have a reason to do something so horrible as that.
So you would think that those gentlemen up in Washington would come up with some new rules or regulations to help protect them and maybe make it safer for a little child to grow up in my town, and your town too…just like they’ve been doin’ with all of those automobile rules and regulations that you remember I mentioned earlier.
But when those Congressmen and Senators got together to decide on what to do guess what they come up with? Why, they decided to vote to not even talk about it at all. Imagine that…little children and teachers…sons, daughters, mothers and wives all…gone and they don’t even want to talk about it let alone do something?
But in my town and in towns all across the country regular people do want to talk about it and over 90% of us want to see something done to at least try to make everyone safer, especially our children…and we don’t see how it could hurt to even try. Don’t we owe it to those children to at least try? I think that deep inside we all know that we do.
And now here’s somethin’ that I bet you don’t know.
Since 1993, the United States has seen a drop in the rate of homicides and other violence involving guns, and that’s according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics and you can look it up… “Firearm-related homicides dropped from 18,253 homicides in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011,”…”and nonfatal firearm crimes dropped from 1.5 million victimizations in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011…even though our population here in my town and all across the U.S. has increased since 1993…go figure.
But all of that is the good news — because many Americans don’t seem to be aware of it. Only 12 percent of Americans believe the gun crime rate is lower today than it was in 1993; 56 percent believe it’s higher…and you can look that up too. But…
There’s more bad news however, because even though the homicide rate and violence rate has fallen in my town and yours too the number of gun related deaths in America has remained just about steady at around 30,000 over that same period of time. So even though people aren’t shootin” each other on purpose as much as they used to, they’re still shootin’ as many of themselves as they always have… now how do you figure that?
Maybe someday researchers will figure it all out and maybe someday we’ll all get on the same page when it comes to guns and how we use them and regulate them and protect each other, and especially our children, from violence…but right now it’s getting late and it’s time for me to go. So when you’re relaxing in your easy chair and settling down for the night in your town, just think about this one true thing that all these important numbers and studies are tellin’ us…
If you own a gun today, then you and your family are in much greater danger than if you do not. So take very good care and use your freedoms wisely and always remember that in my town, just like in yours, it’s never too late to learn something new…and tryin’ to get along with one another every day is always worth the effort even though it sure can make a person feel like they need to lay down and get a good rest every so often…
Well, It’s time now for me to take a rest. You get a good rest too…