Overdoses Deaths Reached 100K In 2020. Why Isn't The Left Pushing Drug Control?

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Coming up a little later today on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, we’re going to be talking about the rise in homicides and shootings across the United States since the start of the pandemic and a new study that tried pin the blame on the rise in “gun violence” on increased gun sales. In fact, that’s been a common assertion of many gun control supporters, though there’s not really any evidence to back it up. Many on the Left simply assume that because shootings increased at the same time gun sales were soaring, that the answer to reducing violence must be to crack down on the guns.

But if that’s the case, then why aren’t they also demanding a new front in the War on Drugs? After all, drug overdose deaths also reached historic highs in the United States last year, with more than 100,000 Americans dying from drug overdoses.

Experts believe the top drivers are the growing prevalence of deadly fentanyl in the illicit drug supply and the COVID-19 pandemic, which left many drug users socially isolated and unable to get treatment or other support.

The number is “devastating,” said Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University expert on drug abuse issues. “It’s a magnitude of overdose death that we haven’t seen in this country.”

Drug overdoses now surpass deaths from car crashes, guns and even flu and pneumonia. The total is close to that for diabetes, the nation’s No. 7 cause of death.

What the Associated Press doesn’t say is that there’ve been more drug overdose deaths than homicides or suicides committed with a gun for longer than a year. That’s not new. What’s different is that by most accounts, these deaths should have declined instead of soaring to record levels.

Most of the fentanyl that’s illegally distributed across the United States is produced by drug cartels in Mexico, who clearly weren’t inhibited in any way by the fact that the border between the two countries was officially closed to most travelers for much of 2020. Lost jobs should also have curtailed the ability of at least some drug users to acquire their fentanyl and heroin, and fewer cars on the road should have increased the odds of law enforcement discovering drug trafficking during traffic stops. Yet even throughout the lockdowns, the evidence shows absolutely no disruption to the cartels’ distribution networks.

Drawing from the latest available death certificate data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 100,300 Americans died of drug overdoses from May 2020 to April 2021. It’s not an official count. It can take many months for death investigations involving drug fatalities to become final, so the agency made the estimate based on 98,000 reports it has received so far.

The CDC previously reported there were about 93,000 overdose deaths in 2020, the highest number recorded in a calendar year. Robert Anderson, the CDC’s chief of mortality statistics, said the 2021 tally is likely to surpass 100,000.

“2021 is going to be terrible,” agreed Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a drug policy expert at the University of California, San Francisco.

Now, if Ciccarone’s comment had been about “gun violence,” it probably would have been followed with another quote from someone advocating a policy to try to curb the death rate; something like “Gun safety prevention experts say the violence could be stemmed if Congress were to pass common sense proposals like universal background checks.” But not when it comes to drug overdose deaths. The only quote to come after Ciccarone’s comment was from a police officer in Minnesota who told the Associated Press “I honestly don’t see it getting better, not soon.”

Where are all the Lefties calling for more “common sense drug control” laws? Why haven’t we heard any Democrats demanding that sentences be increased for drug dealers, or raising hell when someone pushing fentanyl on the population walks away with a year’s probation?

Because when it comes to deaths caused by illegal drugs, the Left’s answer is to try to reduce harm, not reduce the availability of the drugs themselves. As California State Senator Scott Weiner proclaimed after San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced plans to establish a “safe consumption site” for drug users in the city:

“The bottom line is that we need to open safe consumption sites as fast as we can. It’s about saving lives. In 2020, more San Franciscans died of overdoses than they did of COVID-19. Our overdose crisis is destroying lives, families, and the very fabric of our city. It’s unacceptable that people are left to die on our streets because of an outdated, racist War on Drugs mentality. The War on Drugs has failed, and we need a new approach.

If the War on Drugs has failed, then why are Democrats like Weiner still so insistent that their War on Guns can be won? If a “safe consumption site” can reduce drug overdose deaths, why can’t they get behind the idea that a gun range can reduce accidents and even intentional acts of violence with a firearm? I mean, there’s a very good possibility that by this time next year, San Franciscans will have a safe place to shoot up, but will still lack a safe place to go shooting.

The Left’s attempt to criminalize the Second Amendment while trying to excuse away the illegal trade of deadly drugs like heroin and fentanyl isn’t based on common sense. In fact, it makes no sense at all.