According to a new report at CNN, “gun deaths in America have reached a record high.”
The report says that 39,773 people “died by guns” last year, and this is where it appears a numbers game starts playing, which can be understandably frustrating to anyone used to asking direct questions and getting direct answers. It’s because of statements like this:
“Firearm deaths in the data include gun deaths by homicide and suicide, unintentional deaths, deaths in war or legal interventions, and deaths that are undetermined.”
Was there a shooting war somewhere in the United States last year that even CNN skipped reporting?
What, exactly, is an “undetermined” death? Perhaps, as in the case of Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain), reports of those undetermined deaths have been “greatly exaggerated.”
According to CNN, 23,854 people died in suicides “by gun.” But the story doesn’t say how many died as the result of a criminal homicide. That’s okay, because the FBI Uniform Crime Report picked up CNN’s slack. According to the FBI, last year saw 10,982 slayings involving firearms. Of those, 7,302 were committed with handguns, 403 with rifles, 264 with shotguns and 3,283 with guns not identified in the report.
This comparison essentially confirms that roughly two-thirds of gun-related fatalities in any year are suicides and roughly one-third are homicides. It also confirms that a fraction of all homicides involves rifles of any kind, yet anti-gunners have been fanatical about banning so-called “assault rifles.” Why would anyone want to ban a whole class of firearms that may be involved in a fraction of killings unless it is solely for the purpose of getting the public used to the notion that certain types of guns can be banned? In this case, the ban would be on the most popular type of rifle in America.
And it also supports the argument that anti-gunners habitually combine the two numbers and claim that they are all victims of “gun violence.” But homicide is a crime and suicide is typically an act of emotional despair, so combining the two in order to provide an inflated number to create the impression of a “gun violence epidemic” just might be a fraud. At the very least, it is unfair to compare the two.
CNN does another interesting thing. It compares the number of deaths last year with the number in 1999; figures which may, or may not, have much to do with one another except that they are different. Back in ’99, there were 28,874 gun-related deaths. It’s a disparity of more than 10,000 fatalities. But 2017 isn’t a 20-year anniversary of 1999, so what’s the point?
Then the CNN story notes that in 1999, there were 16,599 suicides by firearm. That is more than 7,000 fewer suicides by gun than were reported last year.
And in the middle of this, the CNN story said “the age-adjusted rate of suicide deaths by firearm rose from 6.0 in 1999 to 6.9 in 2017.” Now, just what does that mean? The story lists “age-adjusted” suicide and homicide deaths by firearms among whites, blacks, Asians, Indians and Alaska natives.
People like bottom line numbers, and they understand perfectly when someone says there are “lies, damned lies and statistics.”