With the latest school shooting in Florida, the atheist activists joined the “Ban the guns to save the kids” chorus. Here are just a few examples.
PZ Myers wrote:
We are allowing kids to be slaughtered and traumatized so the gun industry can make more profits and so the NRA can prosper. When will we wake up and shut those ghouls down?
Hemant Mehta couldn’t wait and posted this the very day of the shooting:
Another mass shooting. Another round of Republicans offering their thoughts and prayers while doing absolutely nothing of substance to prevent these tragedies from occurring again.
And Dawkins went on a twitter storm:
Hell does not exist, otherwise the members of the National Rifle Association would surely go there. Perhaps they’d experience a form of hell, here and now, if they had the imagination to think of the bereaved, weeping for their children. But no, they’re too stupid to understand.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) 15 February 2018
There there, I do understand, taking away your guns is like taking away your Comfort Blanky. You’ll feel bereaved. Tell you what, though. We know how to deal with bereavement. We’ll send you our thoughts and prayers. Then you’ll feel better.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) 16 February 2018
I am not interested in a gun control debate, as this is not a political blog. But I am interested in the sincerity of activists. I’m quite skeptical that the outrage from Myers, Mehta, and Dawkins is rooted in a deeply sincere concern for the safety of children. It could be sincere in a fleeting, superficial sense, but I’d bet the outrage is just part of the whole propagandistic package they are always selling.
Why would I be so cynical? If one is truly and sincerely concerned that we need to take action to prevent any more deaths of children, then why is it that these same activists don’t have, and never have, the slightest hint of outrage when it comes to children being killed because of…….alcohol.
Let’s pull out a napkin and run some numbers.
First, how many children have died in school shootings? According to the NYT:
When a gunman killed 20 first graders and six adults with an assault rifle at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, it rattled Newtown, Conn., and reverberated across the world. Since then, there have been at least 239 school shootings nationwide. In those episodes, 438 people were shot, 138 of whom were killed.
That’s 138 deaths over six years. Not all were children, but let’s assume they were. That would amount to about 23 deaths per year. Yes, 23 too many.
But let’s look at the effects of alcohol.
From this report:
During 1997–2002, a total of 9,622 child passengers died in motor-vehicle crashes; 2,335 (24%) were killed in crashes involving drinking drivers.
Two thousand three hundred and five deaths over a period of five years. That would amount to 467 deaths per year.
Alcohol is involved in another form of child death:
Alcohol misuse was implicated in 37% of cases of a child’s death or serious injury after abuse or neglect between 2011 and 2014, the study found.
So how many children are killed by abuse?
According to this report:
That approximation of the number of daily child maltreatment fatalities is based on information provided to NCANDS and represented in the Child Maltreatment report. In 2015 there were an estimated 1,670 child abuse and neglect fatalities (~4.6 per day), an annual rate of 2.25 per 100,000 children — the highest since 2008.
“We know that the number of fatalities is higher than reported by NCANDS,” the Commission explained in its ultimate report, “Some researchers estimate that the actual number is more than double the NCANDS total, but at least 3,000 children per year.”
In the first report, we’ll treat the 37% number as all deaths, but we’ll balance that by choosing the lower estimate of number of deaths – 1,670. That would then amount to 618 deaths per year.
The end result, while 23 children are killed every year in school shootings, 1,085 children are killed every year because of alcohol use. Forty-seven times more children die because of alcohol than school shootings.
To put that number in context, for school shootings to kill as many children as alcohol each year, you would need 64 Florida-type shootings per year. That would mean a Florida-type school shooting every 5.7 days.
Or let’s try to visualize it. Assume each death represents one foot and we erect two monuments to memorialize the victims each year. For the victims of school shootings, we’d have to erect a monument 23 feet tall and for the victims of alcohol, it would need to be 1,085 feet tall.
The school shooting memorial would be about the size of this rock wall:
The alcohol death memorial would be about the size of this skyscraper:
Perhaps you can see why I am both skeptical and cynical about the atheist activists concern about children dying. They are outraged by the rock wall and demand action, but say absolutely nothing about the skyscraper. Why is this?
This would seem to be a very serious inconsistency to me. For example, when Dawkins tweeted:
“Terrorists use trucks to kill, so why don’t you ban trucks?” That has to be the silliest of all the silly arguments of the gun crazies. Trucks are designed & used for other things. Like transporting stuff. Military rifles are designed & used for nothing other than killing.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) 17 February 2018
Fair point. But the rejoinder fails when it comes to banning alcohol. What is its function that is so crucial it costs over 1000 child deaths a year? How would Dawkins respond?
Or we could take PZ Myer’s words and make some slight changes:
We are allowing kids to be slaughtered and traumatized so the alcoholic beverage industry can make more profits. When will we wake up and shut those ghouls down?
Okay, I think it’s now clear why the atheist activists would never support the banning of alcohol to save thousands of children from death.
Drink up. So much for their concern for the lives of children.