My late wife was a nurse practitioner who believed that developing a complete health history was essential to providing patient care. She recalled discussing healthy habits with one of her patients. He allowed as how he drank at least a fifth of vodka every day, plus some beer. (He really didn't keep track of the beer.) Then he added brightly, "And I take one of them low-dose aspirins every day to keep from getting a heart attack."
When my wife suggested that this daily regimen might irritate his stomach, he asked, "So, you think I should quit the aspirin?"
The vodka was nonnegotiable.
Like many grandparents, I was alarmed by news stories not too long ago about lead-painted toys being imported from China. My grandchildren get books from us mostly, so we had managed the problem in our family. But I know all too well that lead poisoning causes serious damage to the central nervous system.
My mother grew up in Washington County, Mo. Lead was mined on the family farm. I can remember playing on the tailings from that open-pit mine. My relatives who remained on the family farm after my mother married and moved away all developed tremors — even the in-laws.
So, after reading all the news stories and watching the frightening newscasts about this terrible lead problem, I began looking for subsequent news items about children who were tragically injured or brain-damaged from all this lead exposure. Despite all the initial media hype, the hysteria seems to have passed. Meanwhile, the real source of lead poisoning, like a two-ton elephant in the room, is ignored.
Every day, nearly eight children die from lead poisoning in this country. This lead is produced by gun barrels. For every child that is killed, another four to five are seriously injured. The Centers for Disease Control estimates the annual cost for medical treatment of childhood gunshot injuries is about $2.3-billion. Half of this medical bill is paid with tax dollars. All this furor about possible lead poisoning from toys, and there is relative silence about the lead that tears eight young bodies to shreds every day.
Our Congress demanded that we ban all lead-painted toys from China. Apparently, gun-produced lead is nonnegotiable.
Ah, yes. The Second Amendment. The Second Amendment recognizes that bearing arms is a right preserved to the people. I really don't object to people owning guns — or swords, clubs, spears, maces, halberts or whatever.
The right to bear arms must be respected. However, the Second Amendment makes no mention of munitions, gunpowder, explosives, bombs or lead bullets.
If we really cared about lead poisoning we would insist that our legislators ban all bullets. Empty pistols could then be carried to the bar, church, school, supermarket or workplace. These delightful collector pieces could be displayed and reverenced by all who love the reeking tube and shattered shard. But no bullets.
Banning lead is nonnegotiable.
C.D. Chamberlain has been a Methodist minister since 1962. During his ministry, he has served as a pastor, mental health administrator, lobbyist and editor. He lives in Spring Hill. Guest columnists write their own views on subjects they choose, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.