The death of Pentecostal minister Jaimie Coots, from a rattlesnake bite to the back of his hand, sure rattled William Saletan, at Slate, who took the occasion to make a point about how dangerous . . . guns are.
In “A Nation of Snake Handlers,” Saletan cleverly regaled us with stories of youngsters and others who died playing with snakes. But he had deliberately swapped “gun” with “snake” and “discharge” with “bite,” taking accidental gun deaths and turning them into snakebite deaths, to get our attention: “We are a nation of gun handlers, as reckless as anyone who handles serpents.”
In one year, he reports, there were over 12,000 gunshot fatalities. Americans own over 300 million guns. What to do?
I’m not going to tell you that the solution to this madness is to pass another gun law. . . . We need more than laws. We need to change our culture. We must ask ourselves whether the comforts and pleasures of owning a firearm are worth the risks. Having a gun in your home is far more dangerous than having a snake.
No one wants gun accidents. But “[h]aving a gun in your home is far more dangerous than having a snake”? Really? Hardly anyone owns poisonous snakes. But Americans own millions of guns, with comparatively few accidental deaths.
Sadly, Saletan played switcheroo with the stat on those 12,000+ gun deaths. Only a few were accidental (in 2010, the number was 606). Most were homicides.
The rule for handling snakes and guns is: peaceful people don’t point them at others. (Better not to point them at yourself, either.)
Respect danger. Respect the rights of others.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.