“There are a billion guns in the world today. Those firearms took the lives of about 251,000 people in 195 countries in 2016, according to new research.
“And, about 35 percent of those gun deaths were Americans who died by suicide.”
Well, no, they weren’t. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, About 9.1% of the gun deaths were U.S suicides.
“In the most comprehensive investigation of its kind, the findings, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, show 64 percent of firearm-related deaths were homicides, 27 percent were suicides and 9 percent were unintentional deaths.”
In the U.S., 51% of gun deaths were suicides; 37% were homicides, 1.3% were accidental and 2.1% were justifiable homicides by law enforcement officers.
The real problem with the numbers is that only about 51% of suicides were committed with a gun. The percentage is that high primarily due to white males who commit nearly 63% of all suicides and use a gun nearly 60% of the time. Women, on the other hand, use a gun only about 32% of the time. Poison is the most common method for females choosing to end their lives. Suffocation, usually by hanging, is a fairly close third choice. This is one of the problems with trying to blame guns for suicides; the suicide rate among women is rising faster than the rate among men and nearly 68% of those acts don’t involve a gun.
It’s often said that restricting access to guns will only cause potential suicides to seek an alternate method. Gun-control advocates dismiss this claim. However, California is an indication that the claim may have some merit.
California is the most populous state and has a suicide rate below the national average. It has a long history of firearm regulation and boasts some of the strongest gun laws of any state. It gets an “A” from the Gifford Law Center.
From 2001 to 2016, the percentage of suicides by firearm dropped from 51% of all suicides to 37%. However, the total suicide rate grew faster than the national rate. The rate of suicide by hanging soared 57%.
Do we need “red flag laws” for belts and extension cords?
It would appear that gun control advocates are willing to dismiss thousands of suicides every year because they don’t involve guns. The rest of us are more concerned about why people are killing themselves than how they do it.
Incidentally, the JAMA study referenced actually contained more accurate information regarding the number of suicides in the U.S. and does not make the claims expressed by Ms. Duff-Brown.
When it comes to homicide, the combination of the rates in the United States and Brazil have been added together to make a big number and over state the problem in the U.S.
Brazil, in spite of very strict gun laws, has a very high homicide rate. According to the Citizen’s Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, a non-governmental group in based in Mexico, 19 of the 50 deadliest cities in the world are in Brazil. Those 19 cities, with a combined population of just over 10% of the U.S. population, reported almost as many murders and the entire United States, which is the third most-populous nation on earth. The combined rates of those cities is 48.35 murders per 100,000 population. Compare that to the U.S. rate of 5.13, according an estimate based on preliminary information from the FBI.
Brazil’s national homicide rate was 30.29 per 100,000. That is 5.9 times higher than the U.S. rate as a nation with less than two-thirds of the U.S. population racked up 3.8 times as many murders.
To be sure, the U.S. was represented on the list. Four cities, Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans and St. Louis, made the cut. The aggregate homicide rate in these cities was 49.20, higher than the aggregate rate in Brazil, the four cities in Columbia with a rate of 48.48 and that of the three South African cities that had a combined rate of 46.92.
The four U.S. cities were much safer than the eight cities in Mexico with a rate of 57.43 and the seven cities in Venezuela with a staggering rate of 90.54. Venezuela is also home of Caracas, rated the deadliest city in the world with a rate of 130.34 homicides per 100,000. Caracas is not quite as populous as Los Angeles but it recorded 4,308 murders compared to 282 in La-La Land.
Here’s where the whole argument for more gun control fails. These other countries all have more restrictions on private gun ownership than the United States. If you look at the Latin American cities and the South African cities and then look at the four U.S. cities, there are similarities that have nothing to do with guns. These factors are not nearly as prevalent in the Western European cities that are often cherry-picked for comparison strictly on the basis of their low rates of firearm homicides.
The above article starts out with an estimate of one billion guns in the world. If that figure is close to accurate, it’s likely American citizens own about 40% of them.
Estimates of the number of gun owners in the U.S. bounce all over the place but 80 million is a fair low-ball guesstimate. It’s quite possible that there are more gun owners in the U.S. than there are people in Germany, the most populous nation in Western Europe.
There are 28 nations in the European Union. There are currently more Americans with concealed-carry licenses than the total populations of all but seven of those countries. There are currently 12 U.S. states that do not require their residents to have a permit to carry a concealed handgun.
According to CDC data for 2016, guns were involved in about 6% of the total number of violence-related deaths and injuries requiring medical treatment. “Violence” includes criminal acts of force carried out by one person on another. That’s assault, aggravated assault, sexual assault, manslaughter, non-negligent manslaughter and premeditated murder or murder in connection with the commission of another crime.
Suicide is a completely different problem requiring different approaches and solutions. As the California experience shows, gun legislation doesn’t seem to have as much impact as one might expect. It’s quite possible that some people may have reconsidered ending their own lives because a gun was not handy but it’s pretty clear that even more people didn’t find the lack of a gun a serious challenge. This makes such speculations fairly worthless.
The whole thrust of the article seems to be a desperate attempt to justify an agenda by dolling it up with a public health disguise. It’s still lipstick on a pig and does not stand up to critical analysis.
Note: The “gun” in the article’s lead photo appears to be a toy die-cast cap gun. I am not aware of those being a public health issue. I believe the closest we might come to that is BB, airsoft and pellet guns. According to the CDC, 88% of injured patients are treated and released. There is no data available on how many of these injuries were injuries to the eye.
As a public service, I am supplying a picture of a real gun.