Joe,

It’s not so much the statistic we don’t agree with it’s the context and what to do about it.

“Gun violence” is a portmanteau word that lumps all firearm fatalities together, regardless of cause.

The majority of gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides. Slightly over half (50.8%) of suicides are carried out with a gun. The reason for that has been known for a long time: most suicides are committed by white males and white males are more likely to use a gun. However, many states with high firearm suicide rates also have high non-gun suicide rates. Some states have very low firearm suicide rates, but their overall rate is still rising.

A while back, researchers noticed an anomaly. In the two years following Robin Williams’ suicide, there was a jump in the number of suicides by suffocation (usually hanging). It was noticeable in both sexes, but was more pronounced among younger women.

The suicide rate among women in general is rising three times faster than the male rate. Poisoning, usually by an overdose of prescription drugs or a lethal mix of drugs and alcohol, is the preferred method, with firearms coming in second and suffocation as a close third.

Treating suicides as a gun violence problem is stupid. There really aren’t any other words expect perhaps moronic. Oh wait! How about deceptive?

Suicide is not the same as homicide. The causes are fundamentally different, so the courses of action must be different, as well.

Incidentally, it hasn’t been established yet that “red flag” laws are successful. It’s going to take a bit more than a year or two to establish a trend and the results so far are mixed. Red flag laws also have an Achilles’ Heel: Some people, especially older men, who are more likely to end their own lives than just about any other demographic group. Obeying the law of unintended consequences, it is quite possible that some will be deterred from seeking help or confiding in anyone because they don’t want to be embarrassed by police coming to take their guns. They may also conceal guns from family members to prevent their seizure.

It’s a given among those who value gun rights that suicides are lumped in with other types of fatal gun injuries to pump up the body count.

Moving on to homicides, we discover something amazing: gun control laws don’t seem to have any effect. Some states with strong gun laws and even low estimated rates of gun ownership have high homicide rates. The four states with the lowest homicide rates have relaxed gun laws. In fact, none of them even require a permit to carry a concealed handgun. Wyoming, which has on of the highest percentages of households with guns, has a homicide rate less than half the national average. Idaho, another state with lots of gun owners, has only 20% as many murders as the national average. In the U.S., an average of 40 people are murdered every day. In Idaho, that figure is 0.04.

So telling us more guns equals more deaths is a simplistic statement that ignores the real problems.

But let’s say we agree. The question then comes what do we do about it, other than target the NRA?

Background checks haven’t worked, especially in the case of mass shooters. Of all the mass killings since background checks became mandatory in February 1994, the shooters got their guns from a retail store that conducted background checks 76% of the time. Elliot Rodger went through the tough California background check process three times before he went on his spree through Isla Vista. Stephen Paddock passed more than a dozen before he opened fire on the crowd in Las Vegas.

Assault weapons bans don’t work. After ten years, the original one was allowed to expire because nobody could show that it had had a measurable impact on crime. Crime is far more than mass shootings and data from the FBI indicates that, year in and year out, rifles are used in fewer murders than bare hands and far fewer than knives or blunt instruments.

Defenders of this foolishness blame loopholes; with the exception of a section that allowed manufacturers to sell of existing inventory, the same loopholes are included in the currently proposed ban.

Registration is a popular idea, whether it’s of guns or gun owners. New York state tried it in 2013 when it passed the SAFE Act. The new law required owners of a laundry list of different firearms to register them with the state police by 2014. The original deadline was extended. In 2016, after losing a court case over a FIOA request, the NYSP released data indicating that compliance was running about 4.4%. Connecticut tried a similar measure except that violations were felonies. Connecticut fared better, netting somewhere around 20%.

It’s very hard to get something registered when you don’t know who has it or where it is and the likelihood of a successful prosecution is limited because some county sheriffs refuse to enforce it. It’s even tougher to get something registered when it’s possessed by someone that truly believes, with a fair amount of evidence, that it’s another step toward confiscation.

It’s also a problem when most rank-and-file cops believe that an armed populace is a good thing. 91% in a 2013 study of sworn law enforcement officers.

So why on earth should we agree with your thesis? Especially when we know that there’s a very slippery slope ahead and you have presented no compelling evidence to support your point of view.

Okay, you don’t like the NRA. Six million of us do and there’s Gun Owners of America for those that think the NRA is too soft. Why does your opinion matter and ours doesn’t? Why should your viewpoint get the big play when ours doesn’t?

If you look at the number of violent gun deaths, even including suicides, and compare it to the estimated number of gun owners, you come up with a startling statistic: Somewhere between 99.95% and 99.96% didn’t kill themselves or anyone else in 2016. Even if you limit it to the number of concealed-carry permit holders, the number drops only to 99.76%. That’s only that low if every single suicide, every accident and every murder was treated as a separate event involving a single gun owner.

So your plan is to treat all of those people as criminals and wannabe mass shooters? We’re all out here with visions of GI Joe or the Lone Ranger running through our minds, according to you.

You brought your fantasies to that range with you. You had no intention of even entertaining the idea that others might enjoy the event, simply because they are curious or actually do want to learn. Your gastric problems were your creation but you think we should share them.

Thanks, but I think I will stick with what I’ve got. Maybe even add a few more years to my NRA membership.

But I did enjoy the dialogue and thank you for it.

Be well.

Professional writer. Passionately interested in facts. Founder of onewordtexas.org

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