The birthright of every American is not the guaranty that they can keep and bear arms; it is the right to a ticket in one of the most peculiar lotteries in the world. You might call it a perverse lottery, since the ticket holder is hoping that their number not be called. A drawing is conducted every day to see which Americans on that day will be maimed or killed by firearms. As national lotteries go, particularly the Powerball lottery that drives Americans to a frenzy whenever the jackpot reaches $300 million or more, the odds of “winning” the Gun Lotto are much, much higher. Each day, on average, 293 Americans are selected to be either killed or injured by gunshot. Of these, 86 will die, most of them by suicide, but 35 of them will be homicide victims.
This is a universal lottery. Just by residing in America, you are issued a ticket, and it is good for as long as you live in America. You cannot escape the Gun Lotto. Its winners are selected whether they are rich or poor – the rich, in fact, have a higher chance of committing suicide with a gun. You cannot escape the Gun Lotto if you own a gun or even multiple guns and are adept at using them only for defensive purposes. Gun owners occupy a special category of winners: those who die by accidental handling of their own guns.
The Gun Lotto, because it is particularly grim, is not televised or broadcast on the radio. Quite the contrary, if the winners get any attention it is only locally, usually among family and friends. Like any lotto, partial prizes are awarded to many more people than those directly killed or injured in the Gun Lotto. Partial winners receive their prize every day, usually for the rest of their life. They live with the emotional loss of a loved one through suicide, or they deal with the consequences of a spouse who is dead or injured, and who no longer can provide for the family. For the direct winners who may have failed at suicide and be brain damaged, or for those who are paraplegics or quadriplegics due to spinal cord injuries, the partial winners face a lifetime of caring for the direct winners. This can mean giving up the rest of your life so you can feed your relative, turn them over daily to avoid bed sores, change their colostomy bag, and otherwise feel as if you, too, were a direct prize winner in the Gun Lotto.
On average, the Gun Lotto awards up to five times as many partial prizes as it does direct prizes. That means about 1,500 people are selected every day to be full or partial winners in the Gun Lotto. The financial effect ripples throughout the economy. It is estimated that a typical handgun costing the owner $50 costs the rest of society over $600 in direct and indirect expenses, such as lost wages, immediate and ongoing medical care, higher insurance premiums for everyone, and family disruption.