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A recent report on firearm homicides in the US by the Department of Justice has been widely reported in the news.  The main finding of the study was an overall 39% decrease in firearm homicides in the US between 1993 and 2011 (U.S. Department of Justice.  Special Report: Firearm Violence, 1993 - 2011; May, 2013 - http://bjs.gov/...).  Any reported decrease in US homicides is welcome news.  Gun enthusiasts were quick to point out that this finding is important and significant because it shows a reduction in gun violence, and suggests there is a concomitant reduced need for further restrictions and regulations of guns sales and gun use.

Today, I will provide some historical data on fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries to show what I think are some interesting trends.  The data on fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries, and fatal and non-fatal bicycle injuries comes from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the nation's premier institute of public health and epidemiology (www.cdc.gov).  The data on gun sales in the US comes from the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (FBI-NICS).

The Data:

Year -   Fatal GS  -  Nonfatal GS  -  Fatal Bi  -  Nonfatal Bi  -  FBI - NICS
2011 -    32,163         73,883                          536,884    -   16.45 mil
2010 -    31,672         73,505            551         516,912    -   14.41 mil
2009 -    31,347         66,769            785         519,736    -   14.03 mil
2008 -    31,593         78,662            893         494,003    -   12.71 mil
2007 -    31,224         69,863            820         495,500    -   11.18 mil
2006 -    30,896         71,417            926         466,712    -   10.04 mil
2005 -    30,694         69,825            927         481,205    -     8.95 mil
2004 -    29,569         64,389            843         490,864    -     8.69 mil
2003 -    30,136         65,834            762         492,900    -     8.48 mil
2002 -    30,242         58,841            767         505,233    -     8.45 mil
2001 -    29,573         63,012            792         519,424    -     8.91 mil
2000 -    28,663    -                   -    740    -                  -     8.54 mil
1999 -    28,874    -                   -    800    -                  -     9.14 mil
1998 -    30,708    -                   -    825    -
1997 -    32,436    -                   -    898    -
1996 -    34,040    -                   -    809    -  
1995 -    35,957    -                   -    906    -
1994 -    38,505    -                   -    825    -
1993 -    39,595    -                   -    905    -
1992 -    37,776    -                   -    790    -
1991 -    38,317    -                   -    917    -
1990 -    37,155    -                   -    928    -
1989 -    34,776    -                   -    875    -
1988 -    33,989    -                   -    953    -
1987 -    32,895    -                   -   1031   -
1986 -    33,373    -                   -    994    -
1985 -    31,566    -                   -    936    -
1984 -    31,331    -                   -    898    -
1983 -    31,099    -                   -    890    -
1982 -    32,957    -                   -    887    -
1981 -    34,050    -                   -    961    -

Legend: Fatal GS = Fatal Gunshot Injury; Non-fatal GS = Non-fatal gunshot injury; Fatal Bi = Fatal Bicycle Injury; Non-Fatal BI = Non-fatal Bicycle Injury; FBI-NICS = FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System

Of Note:
First I must apologize for the appearance of the data chart above.  I do not know how to properly format a data table for this web-site.  I will be much obliged if anyone can tell me how to make such a table in a dkos diary.

Trends in Fatal and Non-fatal Gunshot Injuries.  
The data on fatal gunshot injuries goes back to 1981 and was most recently updated for the year 2011.  The CDC has not yet made 2012 data on fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries available on its web-site.  This data here includes ALL causes of gunshot injury: intentional, accidental, homicide, suicide, and police-related, for both sexes and all ages.  A brief review of the column under fatal gunshot reveals that fatal gunshot injuries in the US have previously been much greater than they are today, reaching a peak of over 39,000 in 1993.  In the following years, fatal gunshot injuries fell to a low of just over 28,000 in the year 2000.  Since then, fatal gunshot injuries have risen steadily to where they are today at over 32,000.

Data on non-fatal gunshot injuries is only available for the years 2001- 2011.  During that period of time, non-fatal gunshot injuries have risen steadily, in parallel with fatal gunshot injuries over the same epoch.

Interestingly, a similar trend was seen in the data recently reported by the Department of Justice on firearm homicide.  From the DOJ report:

“There were 11,101 firearm homicides in 2011, down by 39% from a high of 18,253 in 1993. The majority of the decline in firearm-related homicides occurred between 1993 and 1998. Since 1999, the number of firearm homicides increased from 10,828 to 12,791 in 2006 before declining to 11,101 in 2011.”
So after an initial drop in firearm homicides, from 18,000 in 1993 to over 10,000 in 1999, firearm homicides rose slightly until 2006 and then fell back to approximately where they were in 1999.  Because the DOJ report used the same CDC data, it should be possible to extend the data on firearm homicides backwards from 1993 to 1981.  If firearm homicides follow the trend of gunshot injuries (i.e. lower in the years before 1993), it is likely the overall decrease in firearm homicides is not as great as reported by the DOJ.  The large over-time drop in firearm homicides reported by the DOJ might be the result of cherry-picking of the data.

Trends in Fatal and Non-fatal Bicycle Injuries.
For comparative purposes, I included the CDC data on fatal and non-fatal bicycle injuries.  I choose bicycles because I figured bicycles were approximately as ubiquitous in the US as are guns, but unlike guns, bicycles are not purpose-built to cause injury.  Reviewing the columns for fatal and non-fatal bicycle injuries, it is difficult to discern any overall trend, except to note that fatal bicycle injuries were lower in 2010 than at any time previously.  Both fatal and non-fatal bicycle injuries jump around a good deal, but do not show any overall trend upwards or downwards.  

FBI-NICS data and Gun Sales.
I wanted to see if there were trends over time in guns sales.  Getting good reputable data on gun sales is difficult.  I choose the FBI-NICS data as a surrogate marker for guns sales.  Since the background check law was instituted in 1999, anytime someone wishes to purchase a firearm from a federally-licensed firearm dealer, that dealer must make a background check through the FBI to see if the would-be gun consumer is eligible to purchase a gun or explosives.  The FBI-NICS numbers tell us how many of these background checks were made every year.  It is important to note that the FBI-NICS data does NOT tell us how many guns were actually sold, only how many background checks were made.  In addition, the FBI-NICS data only reflects gun purchases at federally-licensed gun dealers; background checks are not made during private guns sales, and sales made at gun shows and non-licensed dealers.  The advantages of using the FBI-NICS data is that the data covers the entire nation, the data is available back to the year 1999, the FBI is generally viewed as an accurate and unbiased source.  The FBI-NCIS data is also advantageous because it provides a very conservative estimate of gun sales: it underestimates actual gun sales because the FBI-NICS data only covers some, not all dealers.  Additionally, I choose to use the FBI-NICS data because I could find no better data: I will happily use a more direct measure of national gun sales, if anyone knows of a better source for such data.  If we accept the FBI-NICS data as a surrogate marker of guns sales, we see an unmistakable upward trend in gun sales since 1999.

I had previously looked at statistical parallels of the gunshot injury and gun sales data (here; http://www.dailykos.com/...).  Both fatal gunshot injuries and non-fatal gunshot injuries were found to be highly positively correlated with gun sales as measured by the FBI-NICS data: (fatal gunshot injuries and FBI-NICS data Pearson's r = 0.741, p = 0.0009; non-fatal gunshot injuries and FBI-NICS data Pearson's r = 0.645, p = 0.0012).  A positive correlation means the data moves together (on average): as one number goes up, the other number is also observed to go up, and as one number goes down, the other number goes down.  So, on average, as gun sales in the US have increased, both fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries have also increased.  It follows that should there be a decrease in gun sales in the US, we would also see a decline in both fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries.  This correlation does not explain why gunshot injuries rise or fall, it only tells us that there exists a strong association between gun sales and gunshot injuries.

Conclusions
 - Firearm homicides have fallen since 1993.  Almost all of the reported decrease in firearm homicides since 1993 occurred during the years 1993 – 1998.  Since 1999, firearm homicides have been essentially flat, or exhibited a small (perhaps statistically insignificant) increase.
 - The headline news that firearm homicides have declined 39% since 1993 is somewhat misleading because it masks the trends in firearm homicides observed during the years 1993 – 1998 and 1999 – 2011.  Moreover, the reported overall decline in firearm homicides is likely to be smaller if one includes the available data back to 1981
 - Fatal gunshot injuries have similarly declined since 1993.  Like firearm homicides, there was a large decrease in fatal gunshot injuries during the years 1993 – 1998.  However, since 1999, there has been a statistically significant increase in both fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries.
 - Bicycle injuries, both fatal and non-fatal, have not exhibited any trends upwards or downwards over the same time period.
 - The increase in both fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries is highly correlated with gun sales as measured by the FBI-NICS data..  
 - While firearm homicides have decreased since 1993, today we experience over 100,000 gunshot injuries, of which over 32,000 are fatal. We can expect on average over 1 in 1000 Americans to be killed in a gunshot injury.  Examining firearm homicides alone is a poor way to assess gun policy in the US.

Originally posted to Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu May 09, 2013 at 11:09 AM PDT.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA) and Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  All violent crime is down since '93. (6+ / 0-)

         It may very well be the use of unleaded gasoline ☛ Mother Jones

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Thu May 09, 2013 at 11:19:25 AM PDT

    •  And morons shooting themselves is up! nt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Azazello, Glen The Plumber
    •  Mind-boggling.... (4+ / 0-)

      ...ingested lead, that is.

      Of course, the un-leading of gasoline and the supposed improvement in thinking and behavior has not extended to debate about climate change or intelligent design!

      Then again, if violent crime drops too far, then gun enthsuiasts would lose one of their rationales for the continued free availability of guns.  Gun enthusiasts need some level of violent crime to justify additional purchases of guns and ammo, but not so much as to goad the nation into passing more reasonable  regulations on gun sales and use.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu May 09, 2013 at 01:00:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The drop in violent crime (3+ / 0-)

        has contributed to the continued slide in the number of households who own guns.  It's on a (statistically) steady decline for the last 40 years, since fewer people fear crime, and fewer people hunt.  Both of these declines signal a long-term marginalization of gun culture.  That's why right-wing legislators have worked hard for government intervention to protect and promote it, in state constitutions, etc.  Some even argue for mandatory gun appreciation in schools.

        btw, who is buying all those guns, you ask? Mostly people who've already got one; the average gun owner owns 7.8 guns, and rising.  The gun culture is shifting from people who've got one or two for hunting or self-defense, to avid collectors and folks who just love the darn things.

        Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

        by nominalize on Thu May 09, 2013 at 02:50:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Shouldn't this be adjusted to per capita? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KVoimakas

    I mean, otherwise we could be seeing population effects given the relatively small change from year to year.

    •  Population Effects (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber, LilithGardener

      If a growing US population is responsible for increases in both fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries, and gun sales, we would expect the same growing US population to have a similar effect on bicycle injures and bicycle deaths.

      And as the data clearly shows, there is no upward trend in either fatal or non-fatal bicycle injuries.

      This is one reason why I included the data on bicycle injuries in the presentation.  Now in order to claim that a growing US population causes the observed increases in fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries and gun sales, you are obliged to explain why there is not a similar effect on bicycle injuries.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu May 09, 2013 at 11:37:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not so. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MGross

        The growing population could be showing an upward trend that is being depressed downward because of bicycle helmet laws, making it appear as if there is no upward trend in the two bicycle injury columns.

        So you should still adjust it to be per capita.

        •  Except bicycle injuries involve not just heads (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LilithGardener, Glen The Plumber

          1) Injuries to bicycle riders involve more than just the head; they involve all parts of the body.  Even with bicycle helmet laws, if a growing population causes increases in ALL kinds of injuries, including both gunshot injuries and bicycle injuries, we would normally expect increases in injuries to all parts of bicyclists, even if helmet laws reduce injuries to the head.

          2) Lots of gun owners now use eye protection while shooting.  We still see increases in gunshot injuries, despite the additional protection to eyes.  If this argument does not hold true for guns and eye protection, there is no reason we should expect the argument to hold true for bicycles and helmets.

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu May 09, 2013 at 03:12:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Head injuries-->ER visit. Skinned knees? No. NT (0+ / 0-)
            •  No, skinned knees don't get treated at the ER (3+ / 0-)

              You are correct that skinned knees do not get treated at the ER (in the majority of cases).  But, broken ankles and legs DO get treated at the ER.  

              And bicycle helmets do not protect feet, ankles, legs, knees, hips, backs, elbows, wrists, arms shoulders, necks, or faces.

              Your argument is silly in the same way that saying the decrease in gun homicides is due to greater use of bullet-proof glass in city bodegas.

              "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

              by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu May 09, 2013 at 04:21:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Other confounding factors for bicycle accidents (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Glen The Plumber

                include increasing ridership as cities put in bike lanes.

                Does that increased ridership result in an increase in the number of injuries?

                Or a decrease in the number of injuries because if bike lanes are well designed riding a bicycle should be safer.

                Choosing helmets is arbitrary and pointless, unless it can be measured explicitly.

                "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

                by LilithGardener on Thu May 09, 2013 at 06:37:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  For whatever reason (3+ / 0-)

    the authors of the DOJ report cherry-picked 1993 as the starting point for their report. That was the high point during a crime wave that then subsided over the next few years. Since then things have been fairly flattish to a modest trend upwards. It then gets reported as a drop overall, but that isn't really an accurate reflection of the trend over time.

  •  The easiest way to do a table for a diary (8+ / 0-)

    is to do it in either a spreadsheet or word processing program, convert it to a jpg (or similar graphic file) and paste it as an image.

    Not perfect, but it works.

    It's interesting that the number of deaths by firearm violence dropped so precipitously starting in 1994 (the year the assault weapons ban was signed) and started to increase again in 2004 (the year it was allowed to expire). It's particularly puzzling because we've all been assured by the gun strokers that the assault weapons ban was a catastrophic failure.

    The data are clear that, while firearm homicide numbers are dropping, they are not dropping as fast as homicides in general, in part due to the stagnation in the decrease you've noted.  

    Here's a plot I've put together showing the change in proportion of homicides over time:

    Firearm Homicides, USA photo firearmhomicides_zps5e23cd96.png

    To which the gun "enthusiasts" respond by, in effect, saying "So what? They're still dropping in numbers!"

    I put together a little parable to show how stupid and callous this response is:

    Imagine you were the public health director for a community. And, because of a number of societal trends, the rate of death from all infectious diseases was decreasing over time.

    Good job.

    But in one part of the community, the rate is dropping very slowly. You do some investigatory work and note that that part drinks water from a shallow well producing untreated drinking water whereas the rest of the community relies on a deep community-owned well, the water from which is chlorinated before being pumped into the water system.

    In fact, when you run the numbers, you find that, as a proportion of all infectious disease deaths in the community, those associated with that one part -- the part with the shallow well -- are increasing over time.

    You then get together with your counterparts in other similar communities and find that they all drink chlorinated water, that their rates are falling as well, but that they're falling faster than yours, on average, and much faster than that one part of your community with a shallow well.

    To adopt the attitude that that situation is fine, that no other measures need to be taken to address this anomaly where so many still die from infectious disease simply because the overall trend in simple numbers is down, is, well, not quite humane.

    I would argue it's irresponsible and cruel.

    We can and must do better

    No matter what, I don't see how any rational person could oppose further measures to reduce the relatively high rate of firearm deaths in the U.S.
    •  Thank you - and a clarification (3+ / 0-)

      Thank you for your suggestion about making data charts and figures for a dkos diary.  Your suggestion is a good one, tho' the last time I checked, I was not allowed to include an image in a diary because I am (dare I say it?) not a subscriber.

      Your own graphic above is beautiful and I want to make sure I understand it correctly.  While the overall total yearly number of homicides is decreasing, at the same time, firearm homicides as a percentage of all homicides is increasing.  Did I get that correct?

      If you have the data, it should be possible to use linear regression to compare the trend lines for firearm homicides and non-firearm homicdes.  If a statistically significant difference in the trend lines is found, this would allow you to claim that the difference in firearm homicides and non-firearm homicides as a percentage of all homicides is not simple due to random chance or sampling errors, but reflects a real difference in US homicides.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu May 09, 2013 at 12:28:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you for the little graph tutorial (0+ / 0-)

      and for the break out of the data, so we can see the time series.

      That bump in '93 was largely accounted for by violence in New York City, which you probably know was the epicenter of the crack epidemic, which was a very serious public health problem.

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Thu May 09, 2013 at 06:43:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why was this study even news? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, Glen The Plumber

    It's been known that violent crime has been dropping steadily since hitting its early 90's peak.  I've heard gun lobby parroters using it as an excuse for years now.  

    Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

    by nominalize on Thu May 09, 2013 at 02:54:02 PM PDT

    •  I guessing it is news because (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener, Glen The Plumber

      I'm guessing this DOJ report is in the news because the gun industry wants the story of decreased gun homicides spread far and wide.

      Gun homicides are only a part of the problem.  Gunshot injuries may occur during violent crimes, due to accidents, may be self-inflected, during gun "play", and even when the pet steps on the gun.  

      And as the above data shows clearly, gunshot injuries in general are on the increase, regardless of what is happening with gun homicides in particular.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu May 09, 2013 at 03:46:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just want to commend you on a really (5+ / 0-)

    good diary: I guess I generally fall on the "other" side of the gun debate (i.e. it's a robust freedom guaranteed by the Constitution), but this is a really great way of showing how numbers and statistics only tell part of a story, and at times not even that.  

    Discussions like these tend to come back to fundamental disagreements about ideology, with a light veneer of data to give them the illusion of substance.  I lean toward the empiricist side of debates, so discussions like this are automatically going to get my attention and goodwill.  Well done.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Thu May 09, 2013 at 03:12:58 PM PDT

  •  I would be interested in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glen The Plumber

    seeing this data compared to environmental lead levels.

    Researchers have reported (here at DK as well?) a strong correlation between environmental lead levels - from leaded gasoline - and crime rates in general, with about a twenty year time lag. Seems that high lead levels during the formative years leads to poor impulse control as an adult.

    Overall crime rates have dropped a lot over a similar time frame to that covered by your data, and mirror decreases in environmental lead levels.

    Trickle-down theory; the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows. - J.K. Galbraith

    by Eric Twocents on Thu May 09, 2013 at 05:32:04 PM PDT

  •  Another aspect of gun homicides (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Glen The Plumber

    is the fact of who gets shot and what their survivors think are needed reforms. I would love to see a long term analysis of gun suicide trends the same as your analysis for homicides.

    Request the diarist'ss permission to repost my recent comment re homicides in relation to gunshot suicides. The suicide part of the cost to society is something that many RKBA advocates prefer not to address. (Disclaimer: I support the RKBA, and I also support significant reforms in gun law and practice).

    My prior comment:

    What's the bottom line?
    The cost of gun violence is born by those who survive, those who must pick up the pieces of shattered lives; that may be the person who survived a gunshot, or it may be those who survive the deceased.

    In much of our discussion of firearm death, we speak of gunshot victims in terms of a binary function - did they die on the spot or did they survive. But that is only because the finality of death makes the reporting of it much more timely (usually). The authorities must be called. Next of kin must be notified. Someone must determine the probable cause of death. Accident? Suicide? Homicide?

    Of course there are other factors that influence whether someone will survive a gunshot, such as access to state of the art medical care.

    In March the Washington Post published an analysis of firearm suicides, a topic that is difficult for many people to talk about, and compared their findings side by side with homicide data.

    Gun deaths shaped by race in America
    By Dan Keating, Updated: March 22, 2013

    Gun deaths are shaped by race in America. Whites are far more likely to shoot themselves, and African Americans are far more likely to be shot by someone else.
    Washington Post - Gun deaths shaped by race in America - Figure 1 (Image 2)
    Washington Post - Gun deaths shaped by race in America - Figure 1
    The article nails one of the most confounding features of suicide, an aspect that many people find hard to understand, unless they've experienced the dynamic of suicide up close and personal themselves, or with someone they know well.
    The impulse to commit suicide has been described as a trance, and the speed and lethality of a gun make it harder to interrupt the trance. Attempts at suicide are more than 20 times as likely to be fatal when a gun is used.

    (Harvard School of Public Health, Case Fatality Ratio by Method of Self-Harm, United States, 2001).

    The article maps the origins of our national divide on gun safety and breaks out some key findings state-by-state, as gun deaths per 1 million people.
    Washington Post - Gun deaths shaped by race in America - Figure 3 (Image 4)
    Washington Post - Gun deaths shaped by race in America - Figure 3
    "Gun deaths in urban areas are much more likely to be homicides, while suicide is far and away the dominant form of gun death in rural areas. States with the most guns per capita, such as Montana and Wyoming, have the highest suicide rates; states with low gun ownership rates, such as Massachusetts and New York, have far fewer suicides per capita."
    For more detail, they created an interactive map, Gun suicide and homicide: statistics shaped by race. Note: All charts show age-adjusted rate per 1 million people unless noted.

    The summary captures why it is so hard for us to reach agreement about new legislation.

    Contrasting life experiences, whether from a family member’s suicide or the death of a relative in a homicide, drive the nation’s split over an essential element of the gun debate: Would fewer guns save lives? Survivors of homicide victims consistently tell pollsters that the answer is yes, but the response to suicide is different.
    “We have less empathy with those who take their own lives,” said Sean Joe, an expert on suicide and violence at the University of Michigan. “So we don’t have the same national outcry. The key argument for me is that increased access to firearms increases suicide and homicide.”
    Suicide frightens us. Sometimes, it makes us feel impotent, or guilty. We often wonder if there was some way we could have known, or something we could have done. Like homicide, the forward costs of attempted gun suicides are born by the survivors, who too often must also bear extra burdens of shame and regret.

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Thu May 09, 2013 at 06:52:48 PM PDT

    •  Race and gun death (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener

      It makes intuitive sense that those who die by gun homicide tend to be younger, urban minorities, while those who die by gun suicide tend to be older, rural whites.

      (Fun fact to know and tell: suicide is the number one killer of people who bought a gun within the previous 12 months.)

      What makes less sense to me is that these older, rural whites who are more likely to die by gun suicide are the same demographic that are more likely to be enthusiasts supporters of liberal gun laws and policies.  And probably the same people who would regularly tell me in comments here at dkos that gun suicides should not be included in the tally of overall gun mortality statistics.

      Statistics tell us clearly that guns are a health risk to those people who own them and live in a residence where there is a gun.  I often use the analogy of cigarettes: a main effect that is harmful to the people who "enjoy" the product, and a second-hand effect that is harmful to others nearby the user.

      And like cigarettes smokers, gun owners DEMAND the right to use the harmful product, even as it kills them.

      I think I have previously seen your comment in another post, but didn't "grok" it.  I am glad you posted here - it is important information that needs to be repeated.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri May 10, 2013 at 06:23:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A related fact (0+ / 0-)

        is an increasing form of suicide, observed by authors of the GunFAIL and Just Another Day in the Gun Crazy USA; a person (men) shows up at a gun range, for the purpose of using one of killing themselves with a gun.

        (Fun fact to know and tell: suicide is the number one killer of people who bought a gun within the previous 12 months.)
        As you point out, this fact is a key reason why Doctor's must be empowered to ask patients about guns in the home. With EVERY visit doctors must be empowered to ask whether risks in the home have changed. And not just about the patient, in this economy doctors can/should be asking has anyone moved into the home? Does that person own or use firearms? Etc.

        "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

        by LilithGardener on Fri May 10, 2013 at 07:10:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  An excellant suggestion (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LilithGardener

          Of course, having doctors discuss health risks like cigarettes and gun use with their patients is a wonderful idea and one I fully support.

          Even as some states now pass laws forbidding doctors from asking their patients about guns at home or gun use.  

          We certainly have entered into some kind of Alice in Wonderland surreal insanity when doctors are expressedly forbidden by law from talking with their patients about well known and established health risks because of the dictates of business concerns that profits from the manufacture and sale of those risky products.

          We should just get rid of doctors altogether and have the public get its health care from the gun industry.  Our "representatives" seem OK with this.

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri May 10, 2013 at 09:01:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Well-packed with facts. Nicely done... (4+ / 0-)

    ...A couple of nitpicks: background checks DO take place at gun shows because most sellers at them at federally licensed. Background checks actually began in 1994, but it wasn't until 1998 that NICs started doing them. The term non-licensed dealers is inaccurate in the sense that anyone who sells firearms for a living is required to be licensed. The question is what does "for a living" mean; in other words, how many guns can you sell a year before you're considered a dealer?

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Thu May 09, 2013 at 07:30:07 PM PDT

    •  "Non-licensed Dealers" might not be so rare? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener

      Sentences Handed Down For Unlicensed Gun Dealers

      Chattanoogan | Thursday, May 09, 2013 - by Gail Perry

      Kevin Dawson, who authorities say traded guns with Jesse Mathews just before Mathews shot and killed Chattanooga Police Sgt. Tim Chapin, was sentenced Thursday to 34 months in federal prison....

      Two fellow gun dealers were also sentenced by Federal Judge Curtis Collier...

      Authorities said the men sold firearms at gun shows, flea markets and from home without having a license in order to avoid government oversight, tax consequences and the necessity of making background checks before a sale.

      (emphasis added)

      How rare do you think this type of activity really is?
    •  Despite the nitpicks (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener, WakeUpNeo

      I concede that there may be more background checks done at gun shows, and that most business that sell guns are licensed.

      However, my point about the FBI-NICS is that it represents suitable surrogate for gun sales, and a conservative (under-estimate) of gun sales remains.

      If you can think of a better way to measure gun sales nation-wide, I am happy to use it.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri May 10, 2013 at 06:04:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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