Gun violence in the USA and road traffic accidents in Ghana share one thing in common both countries have decided to leave their respective problems in the hand of God. In the past 2 weeks I have been reminded of these two problems by events that brought these age-old problems into the public view. On February 8th Ebony Reigns also known as Priscilla Opoku-Kwarteng a dance hall singer who is well-loved in Ghana died along with her two others traveling with her in a Traffic accident in the Ashanti Region, Ghana. On February 15th 2018 in Parkland, Florida in the US a 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School went back to his school and opened fire on his former school mates using a AR-15 Assault Rifle. This shooting ended with his arrest and the death of 14 students, a Geography teacher, an athletic director and a football coach. These individuals left their homes to go to school like any other day and never returned because of the acts of this shooter.
Any loss of life is painful and extremely devastating for those whose lives are affected as a result. In the wake of these two tragedies in these two nations many words of consolation have been spoken. When questioned on this tragedy US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan told reporters on Thursday that now “is not the time to jump to some conclusion” on legislation, adding that laws already exist to keep guns from people with mental illness or criminal backgrounds. Sure there are laws but they are not every effective, since 2016 there have been more than 555 mass shooting and we still do not have any action by congress. In Ghana president Akuffo-Addo has expressed his condolences to the family on twitter on February 8th he twitted “Saddened by the news of the death of the young, but extremely talented female artiste, Priscilla Opoku-Kwarteng, aka Ebony Reigns.”
In Ghana Road Traffic Accidents have been a major cause of death over the years. Deaths due to Road Traffic Accidents account for about 3% of all deaths ranking 11th among the leading 20 causes of death in the country. In 2014 there were 5550 reported deaths from Road Traffic Accidents in Ghana with a incidence rate of 24.6 per 100,000 persons accounting for more deaths than Prostate Cancer and Cervical Cancer combined in that year. In the US most individuals express their dissatisfaction with the ever-present phenomena of mass shootings. I have gotten to the point where I believe I am getting a bit numb with these shootings. It feels almost as if you do not get the chance to recover before you hear of another one. In April last year I wrote a blog post on this issue after the Surgeon General was asked to resign amid suggestions the premature termination of his term was on account of his unflinching support for gun control legislation.
In the US the NRA (National Rifle Administration) has all but silenced any coherent discourse on the impact of guns on our society. The only reason nobody including President Barack Obama had any impact on this issue is mostly because our political system is highly reliant on industry funding. A Gallup poll performed in October 2017 after the Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 58 individuals suggests that most Americans support some form of gun control legislation. This poll shows that 96 % of respondents support comprehensive background checks on all gun sales and 70% support legislation requiring all privately owned guns to be registered with the local police. It appears that despite overwhelming support for gun control our legislature fails to act because our political leaders are worried about losing their seats if they showed support for gun control. Our young survivors from the Parkland shooting are planning a March on March 24th called March for our lives. I hope our legislators listen to these young people because they are our future.
In Ghana, the age-old issue of foreign funding comes up, I would say that if Ghana and US care about the lives of their people both countries should show a willingness to put their people first. For my conservative political friends who tout their support for conservative Christian values, please read 1 Timothy 10: 6 “For the love of money is the root of all evil”
By Dr. Leonard Sowah, an internal medicine physician in Baltimore, Maryland