A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that “suicides and drug overdoses pushed up U.S. deaths last year,” the Associated Press is reporting, noting that the drug overdose death rate was up 9.6 percent over 2016.
According to AFP, “the rate of heroin deaths was seven times higher than in 1999.”
So, this raises some questions for gun owners, especially in Washington State, where officials in Seattle are keen on creating a so-called “safe injection site” for drug addicts, while they have pushed increasingly restrictive gun control laws, including a safe storage requirement that is now being challenged by the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association.
AFP said the CDC data “showed that a total of 70,237 people died of overdoses in 2017.” That same year, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, out of the 15,129 people murdered last year, 10,982 of them were killed with firearms.
There is no small irony in the release of this information now, four weeks after the Nov. 6 adoption of one of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws—by citizen initiative—in the Evergreen State. Initiative 1639 raises the age limit for purchasing any semiautomatic rifle, including .22-caliber rimfires, to 21. It also defines “semiautomatic assault rifles” so broadly as to include literally ever self-loading rifle ever manufactured. The goal, say proponents of this new law, is to prevent mass shootings.
But according to The Trace, a publication supported by anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg, “While 2017 was marked by multiple high-profile mass shootings, including the massacres in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas, the Archive’s year-end tally of mass shootings recorded a slight decrease, from 383 in 2016 to 344 in 2017.
“The number of people killed in mass shootings also declined,” the Trace continued, “from 456 to 433. As in previous years, fatalities from mass shootings continued to make up a small fraction of overall firearm deaths: less than 3 percent of the total.”
In Washington State last year, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, there was a single homicide confirmed to have been committed with a rifle. Typically, rifles of any kind are used in a fraction of murders in Washington and across the country.
About two-thirds of all firearms-related deaths are suicides, and roughly one-third are homicides. So, roughly 30,000-33,000 people die annually from gunshot wounds. That’s less than half the number that died from drug overdoses last year, according to the CDC.
Last year, the AP noted, the suicide death rate was the highest in 50 years, with more than 47,000 suicides. That was up from just under 45,000 in 2016, the news agency reported.
About three years ago, Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation and chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, championed a pilot effort aimed at reducing suicides. Working with the Forefront project at the University of Washington, he lobbied in Olympia for funding and helped put together a suicide prevention program that includes pharmacists, firearms retailers and instructors, gun range operators and others.
Washington’s new gun control measure is already being challenged in federal court by SAF and NRA. One of its tenets is the requirement for a so-called “enhanced background check” to purchase a so-called “semiautomatic assault rifle.”
But a study recently reported by the Violence Prevention Research Program (VPRP) at UC Davis and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed that “homicide and suicide rates in the 10 years after California simultaneously mandated comprehensive background checks for nearly all firearm sales and a prohibition on gun purchase and possession for persons convicted of most violent misdemeanor crimes found no change in the rates of either cause of death from firearms through 2000.”
There may be various factors involved in this non-result, but after the gun prohibition lobby spent more than $5 million to pass I-1639, the VPRP report suggests the new law might impact only the law-abiding citizens, including the young adults who will be disenfranchised from exercising their Second Amendment rights, while not making any difference in reducing crime or suicide.