Friday, October 2, 2015

A Few Facts About Guns

Yesterday the country was shocked by another mass shooting.
Nine people were killed. Yes. Sadly. 
Of the 92 people killed by guns in the US yesterday, nine were in class at a community college in Oregon.

So we are talking about guns for the first time since nine people were killed at a prayer meeting in a church in South Carolina.

In between those two incidents, it’s likely that 9,584 people died of gunshot wounds in the United States.

I’m basing this on statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. The numbers are from 2013, the most recent year available. 

For 2013, the CDC lists 33,636 gun deaths in the US.

In other words, the tragedies in Oregon and South Carolina that captured the nation’s attention occur ten times a day.

Usually, news sources quote a much lower figure: 11,208 gun deaths a year. Those are homicides. That’s 31 a day. 

Three times the Oregon shooting. Three times the South Carolina shooting. Today, and yesterday, and tomorrow, and forever.

According to the FBI, three-fourths of homicides are committed with guns. More than half are committed by someone the victim knows; 1 in 4 are committed by family members. One third of female homicide victims are killed by their husbands or boyfriends. 

In other words: an American is far more likely to be shot at home by a family member than in a public place by a deluded narcissist.

So what about the other 61 US gun deaths a day? A small proportion of those are accidents, a category that tends to get distributed among other categories. 
 But two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides. 

Many people, including the news media, are quick to brush the suicides aside as unimportant. The thinking is that “those people” were doomed anyway.

Research shows this is not true. Suicide is largely dependent on opportunity. The great majority of people who narrowly survive a suicide attempt never try again. And suicides attempted with guns are the most likely to be successful. 

I just wanted to put these facts out there. They tend to get lost in the noise.