- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2000

This upcoming Mother's Day the Million Mom March will be re-educating the populace at-large of the need for "sensible gun laws for safe kids." The effort is spearheaded by none other than Donna Dees-Thomases, from the same family well-known for its pro-Clinton spin operatives.
In espousing their agenda, the Million Mom March web site cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics on gun deaths from children 0-19. Although they correctly observe that "4,223 young people ages 0-19 were killed by gunfire" in 1997, they fail to also divulge that 70 percent of these deaths occur among "children" between the ages of 17-19, most of who die as a result of gang violence. While these deaths are certainly tragic nonetheless, they will not be prevented by many of the "common-sense" measures proposed by the organizers of the Million Mom March, which include mandatory trigger locks and other safety regulations targeted at preventing accidental deaths, their primary policy goal.
In fact, it seems rather counterintuitive to focus one's efforts on raising awareness of the danger posed by guns, given that they constitute very little danger in comparison to many other sources of lethal accidents. While 110 children ages 1-14 died from gun accidents in 1998, 200 suffocated from ingested objects, 570 died from burns, 850 drowned, and 2,600 died in car accidents. In proportion to their danger, guns already receive enormous attention from the media.
Additionally, according to the National Safety Council, firearm accidents are at the lowest ever recorded, totaling 900 down from 2,513 in 1974 and the 981 figure from 1997, the Million Mom March cites. Much of the past reduction has occurred in the absence of regulation, and is instead the result of the gun industry's economic interest in making their product more appealing to potential customers.
Other information cited by the organizers of the Million Mom March likewise appears more the product of voodoo computations than hard data. For instance, they claim "American children under 15 are 12 times more likely to die from gunfire than children in 25 other industrialized countries combined." Yale University researcher John R. Lott Jr. has pointed out that this statistic is misleading because while Hong Kong and Kuwait are counted as industrial nations, much larger countries such as Russia and Brazil are not. Their absence is suspect because they have among the toughest gun bans in the world and still have murder rates 4 times higher than those in the United States.
Organizers of the march also mistakenly praise the Brady Bill, claiming that "Since passing the Brady Law in 1994, over 400,000 convicted felons have been prevented from purchasing firearms because of the mandatory background checks." The Justice Department data, according to Mr. Lott is overestimated by about thirty fold.
Even if the individuals supporting the Million Mom March still give credence to the Brady Bill, one would expect they believe the regulations should be enforced. But instead of condemning Mr. Clinton and the Justice Department for only prosecuting about 1 in every 1,000 alleged violators, the Million Mom March issues press releases titled, "Mothers Applaud the President … for Stance on Common-Sense Gun Legislation." In any event, enforcing the law has hardly produced startling numbers in 1997, only 36 persons were convicted of violating the Brady Bill.
The Million Mom March also wants to "stop the marketing of guns to children" by encouraging the federal government to implement policy that would restrict the advertising of gun manufacturers. In other words, they support abridging our constitutional right to freedom of speech. Especially hypocritical of this particular claim is the Million Mom March's own advertising and marketing strategy, which includes withholding relevant information about their statistics. Their mission statement says the "Million Mom March Mothers' Day 2000 is dedicated to … educating our children and our country about the life-threatening danger of guns."
So while they don't value the freedom of gun manufacturers to advertise freely, they themselves are empowered to market an agenda to children. Such behavior includes posters on many college campuses that read, "Should buying a gun be easier than registering for class?" Even more objectionable is their logo: a flower stemming from the barrel of a gun, which is reference to '60s insurgents like Mr. Clinton who dodged the draft while other Americans fought against communism in Vietnam. The logo is drawn in crayon to mimic the artwork of a child.
But the most perverse travesty committed by the march's organizers is their title itself. Even though the march is not limited to mothers remember, it takes a village to raise a child the organizers' original permit indicates they were only expecting 10,000 people. It seems the silent majority they purport to speak for is the greatest illusion of all.


Jaime Sneider is the editorial page editor of the Columbia [University] Daily Spectator.

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