In 1982, an unknown person poisoned several bottles of Tylenol, killing seven people. As a result of those deaths, in 1983, the “Tylenol Bill” was signed into law, making it a federal offense to tamper with consumer products. And in 1989, the FDA established federal guidelines for manufacturers to make products like Tylenol tamper-proof. All of these changes, intended to keep us safe, resulted from the deaths of seven people. Over-the-counter medication and supplements are still protected by safety seals, shrink wrapping, and other methods, because of “The Tylenol Killer,” whose identity has never been discovered.
While the FDA was finalizing their guidelines for bottles of medication, the Consumer Product Safety Commission was dealing with their own safety issue: lawn darts, or “Jarts.” On a spring day in 1987, seven-year-old Michelle Snow, was struck in the head with a lawn dart. The dart penetrated her skull, Michelle collapsed, and died three days later. Michelle’s father, David, began a crusade to get lawn darts banned by the CPSC. In 1988, he got his wish. According to the CPSC, lawn darts have been responsible for the deaths of three children.
Last year, a gunman killed nine people at a small community college in Oregon. Police shot and killed the gunman, thus bringing the death toll to ten. Ten people-the total number of people killed by the Tylenol Killer and lawn darts combined-died in a matter of minutes in Roseburg. On July 4, 2016 (the day this article is being written), as of approximately 7:00 PM, 5 people have been killed by gun violence, and 15 have been injured.
Guns kill more people per day than the Tylenol Killer and lawn darts ever did. But while we have to use manicure scissors to open a bottle of ibuprofen, and you cannot purchase lawn darts in any store, you can purchase guns, and use guns, and no one can stop you. Not the government, not the local police, not the mental health system, no one. An anonymous sociopath kills seven people, and our government reacts quickly, enacting safety measures and federal requirements. Lawn darts kill three children, and our government reacts quickly, pulling lawn darts off shelves and banning them completely. Guns kill children every day, and nothing happens.
If you ask someone who loves guns more than children about this phenomenon, they will tell you it’s all due to the Second Amendment. Their right to bear arms shall not be infringed, and massacred children, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, friends, are the price we pay for that “freedom.” There’s no Amendment protecting the right to take Tylenol, or the right to use lawn darts, so it was easy for the government to step in and protect us. When it comes to guns, the politicians who are fully-owned puppets of the NRA refuse to protect us, refuse to do the right thing, refuse to do their job. We the people elected our representatives to represent us, not the NRA, not Bushmaster, not Smith and Wesson, not Remington. Us. We the people who are dying every day because of gun violence.
What do we do? When logical, rational people bring up the need to close the gun show loophole, get rid of strawman purchases, and expand background checks, we are immediately attacked by gun-nuts, who believe any attempt to stem the flow of blood running through our streets is a violation of their “rights.” Frankly, I couldn’t care less about their rights. The rights of children, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, and friends, to go to the mall, or church, or a movie, or school, outweigh a gun-nut’s perceived right to own as many firearms as he or she wants.
The Tylenol killer murdered seven people. Lawn darts resulted in the deaths of three children. Twenty children were killed at a school in Newtown, Connecticut. Forty-nine members of the LGBT community were killed in Orlando, Florida. Nine people were killed in Roseburg, Oregon. Thirty-two people were killed at Virginia Tech. Six people were killed in Tucson, Arizona. Twelve people were killed in Aurora. Colorado. Fourteen people were killed in San Bernardino, California. Nine people died in Charleston, South Carolina.
We regulate over-the-counter medication, we banned lawn darts. We do nothing about guns.