As noted at the top of today's BradCast, our show changed about five different times right up until air, as we attempted to keep up with busy news events on the ground following the Labor Day weekend.
First up, Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk who was jailed before the weekend after defying court orders to issue marriage licenses was released [PDF] by the Federal Judge who had found her in contempt last week. Waiting for her with a hero's welcome was a crowd of hundreds fomented by former Arkansas Governor turned GOP Presidential candidate turned Fox 'News' host turned GOP Presidential candidate again turned desperately disingenuous opportunist Mike Huckabee.
But what Huckabee failed to note in his defense of Davis --- as do most of the media covering what's going on down there --- is that Davis was sent to jail not for refusing to defy her own conscience as her supporters claim, but for refusing to allow others who disagreed with her in her own office from acting and following their own conscience...not to mention the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution.
Next up today: As the carnage of gun violence continues from coat to coast following the recent, live on-air shootings in Roanoke, Virginia (include another mass shooting at a school here in California and the critical injury of one of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's top legal staffers), we speak to author David Hemenway about solutions, as detailed in his book Private Guns, Public Health.
"People from around the world come and they just cannot understand why the United States allows this to happen --- compared to all the other first world countries and high income countries --- that we are allowing so many Americans to be killed," Hemenway tells me while explaining how our epidemic of gun violence must be regarded as an issue of public health. "First we have to admit we have a problem, and the numbers are just overwhelming."
While he concedes that, no matter what we do, "we are going to have lots and lots of guns in the Unites States," they can and should be made safer. "One of the analogies we make in public health is in the motor vehicle area," Hemenway explains. "Fatalities per mile driven in the United States have fallen over 85% because the cars are so much better, and the roads are so much better. Yes, we ought to look at the individuals [perpetrating the violence] but we can do so much more, so much more cost-effectively, if we also look at the system. Let's make a system where it's hard to make errors, hard to behave inappropriately, and then when still some people do, let's make it that nobody dies."
"For example, we'd like manufacturers to do a better job about making child-proof guns --- which they made 100 years ago --- to make it harder for kids to unintentionally kill themselves. We can say 'You know, it's the kid's fault, it's the parent's fault, it's somebody's fault fault fault,' or we can solve the problem, which is make it so that when you take out the magazine the gun won't fire. It's not rocket science."
Hemenway, Professor of Health Policy and Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, offers other common sense solutions, including the need for better data collection, currently made scarce by both legislation and intimidation by gun proponents. "Whenever there's a motor vehicle death, we get 150 pieces of information collected consistently and comparably. We want to get good data on the number of guns in households in each state, but the Center for Disease Control is afraid to ask questions about that because they'll get beaten up by Congress."
He also discusses a number of myths from opponents of gun safety laws, including the claim that women need guns to protect themselves from predators and the notion that households are safer with a gun to protect the occupants. "Only about a third of households have guns," Hemenway tells me. "And the two-thirds that don't have guns, turns out they are much, much safer than the one third that does."
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