Can we talk about guns?
The gun lobby doesn't want us to do that, even as Hilton Head Island mourns a 17-year-old killed Sunday night in a public park. The trigger was allegedly pulled by a juvenile.
The gun lobby doesn't even want pediatricians talking to parents about guns. That's the law in Florida, thanks to the gun lobby.
My long and lucrative career in the newsroom has taught me this: When someone tries to take away your freedom of speech, what they want to hush is exactly what needs to be shouted from the rooftops.
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So let's talk about guns before that American freedom is pried away from our cold, dead hands.
Homicide is the second leading cause of death among American adolescents age 15 to 19. About 85 percent of the homicides are firearm-related, with a handgun usually the weapon. Males are most often the victim, with young black men dying at the highest rate. It's much more likely to happen in an inner-city than a beautiful beach park on Hilton Head.
The truth is, the firearm-related death rate for teens has gone down significantly. And the National Rifle Association brags about how hard it pushes for gun-safety education. It says that's one good reason pediatricians should shut up and mind their own business.
At the risk of getting gunned down, let me share what the doctors say:
"The absence of guns from children's homes and communities is the most reliable and effective measure to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents."
The American Academy of Pediatricians wants gun-safety legislation to strengthen the background check system, reduce gun trafficking, encourage safe firearm storage, ban assault weapons, and do more to address the needs of at-risk children.
The pediatricians prescribe "a robust federal research agenda on gun violence prevention."
And they want Congress to support and fund improved access to mental health services for children.
Since only the gun lobby can talk about guns, let's talk about freedom. Let's talk about our freedom to be safe in a family-oriented community park that attracts hundreds of thousands of guests each year.
We're losing our freedom because we have too many guns, and they're too easy to get hold of. Maybe the gun lobby will talk about how that is terrorizing the nation, and taking away our freedom.