Illegal drugs, not legal guns, leading cause of death in adults 45 and younger

Illegal drugs, not legal guns, leading cause of death in adults 45 and younger
(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

We’re often told by gun control advocates that if we just limited the availability of firearms in this country, our violent crime problem would subside almost immediately. And the easiest way to do that, according to them, is to criminalize the exercise of our Second Amendment rights as much as they can get away with until perhaps one day they can pack the Supreme Court and overturn the Heller decision, removing the individual right to keep and bear arms from our Constitution’s protections.

As you might have guessed, I don’t find that a particularly compelling argument for many reasons. But let’s leave aside the obvious constitutional issues and the ramifications that attempting to negate the right to own and carry a gun would have on our society. Let’s even brush aside the fact that overturning Heller wouldn’t in and of itself make gun ownership illegal. Let’s say for the sake of argument that the gun control lobby eventually got its way and banned the possession of all firearms. Does anybody really think that the 400-million or so firearms in the hands of American citizens would all be turned over or destroyed by their owners?

Making something illegal doesn’t make it disappear, and we got a very painful reminder of that fact this week when the Centers for Disease Control announced that fentanyl overdoses are now the leading cause of death in adults aged 45 and younger. More adults in the prime of their lives are dying from an illegal drug than COVID, cancer, heart attacks, car accidents, suicides, or homicides.

“This is a national emergency. America’s young adults — thousands of unsuspecting Americans — are being poisoned,” James Rauh, founder of Families Against Fentanyl, said in a statement. “It is widely known that illicit fentanyl is driving the massive spike in drug-related deaths. A new approach to this catastrophe is needed.”

Rauh, who lost his son to an overdose, added that “declaring illicit fentanyl a Weapon of Mass Destruction would activate additional and necessary federal resources to root out the international manufacturers and traffickers of illicit fentanyl and save American lives.”

The DEA on Thursday announced a surge in the sale of fake prescription pills containing deadly opioids on social media platforms like Snapchat.

… Fentanyl drug seizures at the border have reached record highs in 2021, according to data from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as the Biden administration faces a continuing crisis at the southern border.

Border authorities have seized more than 11,000 pounds of fentanyl so far in fiscal year 2021, with less than one month to go, dwarfing the 4,776 pounds seized in fiscal 2020. CBP seizures of other drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and heroin have generally decreased since 2018.

My heart goes out to Mr. Rauh, but honestly, the idea that we’re ever going to eradicate the illegal manufacture and trafficking of fentanyl is as fanciful as the idea of getting rid of all the legally-owned firearms in the United States. By all means, let’s target the multi-national criminal enterprises and countries that are fueling the flood of fentanyl into the U.S., but we shouldn’t pretend that’s actually going to get rid of the product. As long as there’s a demand, there’ll be a supply.

The same holds true for firearms, and the demand for guns wouldn’t suddenly disappear if they were banned. I suspect we’d actually see the opposite phenomenon take place, with many more people deciding they want one. Blind obedience to bad law has never really been Americans’ thing, and any attempt at erasing the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights would cause a lot of our friends and neighbors to go out and buy a gun before Prohibition II came into effect.

And once that gun ban was in place, you’d see a thriving black market in home-built and 3D-printed firearms, along with ammunition smuggled in from Mexico or illicitly manufactured here at home. Instead of the bathtub gin popularized during the prohibition of alcohol 100 years ago, we’d have rec room reloads to go along with the rounds smuggled in from south of the border or stolen from law enforcement and military sources.

The gun control lobby is on the wrong side of history in trying to strip Americans of their right to keep and bear arms, and they’re denying reality when they insist that if they get their way all our problems will be solved. We wouldn’t become some gun-free utopia. We’d probably look a lot more like Mexico, frankly; a near narco-state with weak institutions, rife with police and government corruption, and awash in cartel-fueled drugs and violence.

I won’t pretend to have all the answers to our current drug crisis, but I do believe that if we can address the demand for drugs like fentanyl we can not only bring down the heartbreaking number of drug overdose deaths but the violence inherent in the drug trade; both among the dealers and the addicts who are willing to steal, rob, and sometimes even kill to get their next fix. We’ll never get rid of the drug completely, but strategies and tactics that are successful at disrupting the drug trade and preventing addiction in the first place would save thousands of lives every year, including many lost to “gun violence” driven by drug sales or use.