It wasn’t long ago that anti-gun activists were pushing the narrative that “gun deaths” would soon surpass deaths in car accidents across the country. In early 2016, the Huffington Post breathlessly reported that in 21 states, there were more “gun deaths” than fatalities in car accidents. Of course, the Washington Post had already declared a few weeks earlier that “guns are now killing as many people as cars.”
Later in 2016, as traffic fatalities spiked across the country, the media seemed to lose interest in this apples-to-oranges comparison. In fact, after President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised to get tough on violent criminals to bring down crime rates (including homicide) across the country, the media suddenly discovered that crime is at “historic low levels” across the country. You could get whiplash from trying to follow the media narrative too closely.
Meanwhile, with homicide and traffic fatalities at “historically low levels,” drug overdose deaths are skyrocketing, as Christopher Caldwell notes in an article for First Things. There were 52,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2015, about four times the number of gun-related homicides and double the number of traffic-related deaths in the United States.
It’s expected that the final statistics for 2016 will show the epidemic of drug overdoses isn’t slowing down, despite the increased availability of the anti-overdose drug Narcan. Communities across the country, but particularly in the Appalachians and the upper Midwest, are becoming decimated because of the influx of heroin, fentanyl and other opiates. In 2015, West Virginia recorded 70 homicides across the state, but more than ten times as many West Virginians lost their life by overdosing on drugs, primarily opiates. Or, to put it another way, West Virginia’s drug overdose rate is about twice as high as Chicago’s homicide rate. There were 52,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2015, about four times the number of gun-related homicides and double the number of traffic-related deaths in the United States.
Our media’s too busy pushing the bizarre narrative of “violent crime is at historically low levels but we need more gun control laws” to pay more than scattered attention to the unfolding devastation caused by opioid overdoses. Don’t expect to see Hollywood celebrities acknowledge the death of their audience by preening in yet another video where they repeat each others words while staring solemnly at the camera lens. Apparently they can only make videos if they’re complaining about the election of Donald Trump, pushing for more gun control laws, lecturing us about global warming and the like. Of course, a celebrity video isn’t effective at changing the election, or our gun laws, so I wouldn’t expect an anti-heroin PSA to be any better at bringing down the death rate.
What about deep-pocketed billionaires like Michael Bloomberg? Heck, Mike has his own Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, but they seem to be much more interested in doing research on why we supposedly need more gun control laws than in finding solutions to the soaring overdose death rates.
Sadly, don’t expect too much from big city, anti-gun politicians either. When Cincinnati police officer Kenneth Grubbs was shot in the line of duty on March 12, the city’s mayor, John Cranley, was quick to point the blame on the guns that were illegally owned by the suspect. “Did you see those guns?” he asked the assembled media. “No one needs those.” The guns the mayor was referring to, according to WCPO-TV, are a .22 and a 9 mm carbine. Here’s a newsflash for Mayor John Cranley: The same guy who allegedly tried to kill a cop very likely did kill several constituents by dealing his deadly drugs.
What Mayor Cranley didn’t say is that the suspect, Damion McRae, should’ve been behind bars instead of illegally armed in a Cincinnati home. In late 2016, just a few months ago, McRae was convicted of trafficking heroin, fentanyl and cocaine. Despite previous drug trafficking convictions, McRae walked away with probation and was back on the streets. Now Mayor Cranley says he wants to throw the book at Damion McRae, but if the mayor was really serious about getting tough on crime, he would’ve been raising hell last year when a drug trafficker got a slap on the wrist in his city’s courts.
In 2016, police responded to 426 shootings in Cincinnati. Meanwhile, emergency responders rolled out on at least 2,008 heroin overdoses during the same time period. Here’s a newsflash for Mayor John Cranley: The same guy who allegedly tried to kill a cop very likely did kill several constituents by dealing his deadly drugs. If you want to drive down violent crime, you don’t do it by trying to ban guns or pass another gun control law. You get tough on the guys who are driving both violent crime and the drug trade, and you do it every chance you get. You don’t wait until a police officer gets shot to get tough.
Cam Edwards is the host of “Cam & Co.,” which airs live 2-5 p.m. EST on NRATV and midnight EST on SiriusXM Patriot 125. He lives with his family on a small farm near Farmville, Va. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @camedwards.