In Tuesday’s U.S. News and World Report, an opinion piece promoting more gun laws and fewer firearms alleges that “the daily toll of gun violence is no less horrific, taking the lives of approximately 92 people every single day, most of them slain with handguns.”
It’s a dramatic assertion, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that is worded in such a way that the casual reader might conclude that all of these fatalities are the result of some criminal act. “Slain with handguns” creates the impression that these people were murdered.
The authors are connected to a group called “Guns Down,” which is “dedicated to creating a movement for dramatically fewer guns in America.” Translation: They’re a gun prohibition lobbying organization.
Instead of casually reading the opinion piece, a careful look at the CDC report cited reveals the following:
- Of the 15 leading causes of death in 2013, firearms don’t specifically make the list. There are two categories in which firearms would have a role: Accidents and Intentional self-harm (suicide).
- Firearms accounted for 33,636 deaths that year, according to the CDC data, of which 21,175 were suicides and 11,208 were homicides, or roughly a 2-to-1 ratio.
However, the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2013 shows 12,253 total homicides, of which 8,454 were committed with firearms. Of those, 5,782 involved handguns, 285 involved rifles, 308 were committed with shotguns and 2,079 were done with guns that could not be identified.
Whether one uses the CDC data or the FBI figure, they are both a far cry from 33,000-plus deaths.
Once again, gun control proponents have lumped suicides and homicides together and called it “gun violence.” Second Amendment advocates contend that this tactic is deliberately misleading; creating the public impression that America is in the midst of a murder epidemic. While that may be true in places like Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., it doesn’t pass the smell test over much of the country.
Gun rights leaders recognize that suicide is a tragedy, and they are taking the lead in efforts to reduce suicide. Out in Washington State, Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation and chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, has joined with suicide prevention advocates, mental health specialists and a dedicated state representative to create a “safe homes/suicide prevention” project. The National Rifle Association is also involved in this effort, and representatives from SAF and NRA co-chair an important subcommittee whose goal is education and prevention.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is also working hard on suicide prevention. NSSF’s Bill Brassard told LPP Tuesday that the project had been in the works for about a year. NSSF joined forces with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to create a project for launch this year following a pilot program in four states. Their goal is to have a nationwide program within two years.
While some gun control groups have climbed on board, they are still pushing their own agenda. Time will tell which efforts actually deliver the goods.