Backfire Indeed!

Backfire Indeed

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, but responding to comments from Ohio firearms activists kept me busy and my afternoon and evening are shot (Sorry).

Most comments had nothing to do with the merits or facts of the Supreme Court case DC v. Heller; some berated me for using statistics they felt were not handgun-specific (I guess burglars are well-mannered in Ohio and won’t steal your guns); many think DC has colonial status; no commenter knows or cares about Constitutional history or law; many prefer to pose hypothetical situations and avoid the sad realities of our nation’s plaugue of firearm casualities.

In full disclosure I should say I come from a law enforcement family, took part in shooting sports in my teens, and I’m acquainted with a number of hunters.  I am very sensitive to firearms safety issues, abhor vigilante-ism, and see little reason why many people other than sworn law officers need handguns. I am incensed at the heavy-handed, outside interference in a local DC issue and the politicization of what I feel is a public health issue.

I don’t deal with this topic much, but I think figures like these from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) can help put things in perspective:

Number and percent distribution of decedents dying from external underlying cause by mechanism of injury: United States, 1993, Circumstances of Accidental Deaths, 1993

CDC - Circumstances of Injuries
NOTES: Excludes deaths due to external causes to persons under 15 years of age and those external deaths occurring in South Dakota. Figures may not add to totals due to rounding. Standard errors are estimated using the statistical software package

 That’s right, more firearms deaths than motor vehicle deaths. There’s more:

When proxy respondents were asked about circumstances related to deaths of persons who died from homicide, suicide, or accidental injuries, the following were reported: 10 percent of the decedents died while at work; 21 percent of the deaths involved the use of firearms; 19 percent of the decedents had an alcoholic beverage within 4 hours of death; and 17 percent of the decedents had taken drugs or medication within 24 hours of death.

Number and percent of decedents dying of external causes (homicide, suicide, accidental injury) by selected circumstances as report by proxy respondents: United States, 1993

Table 2 CDC Circumstances of Death 1993

And, worse, for handgun enthusiasts:

Number and percent distribution of decedents dying of external causes (homicide, suicide, accidental injury) where firearms were reported by proxy respondents to have been involved by type of firearm: United States, 1993

 Table 3 -- Type of Firearms Used

There are more current data on the CDC site for download into statistics packages.

Additional information on firearms injuries and fatalities as a public health issue can obtained from The Firearms Injury Prevention Center at Penn (FICAP) at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.

Image by Mike Licht who should know better than appeal to common sense when it comes to handguns.

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3 Responses to “Backfire Indeed!”

  1. breadandjam Says:

    Your statistics are very old. Accidental gun rates dropped dramatically from 1994 to 1998, and now are even lower.

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    Would you have new statistics from a reputable source? These, from CDC, are based on death certificates, that’s why it takes so long to update them. The statistics are for all “deaths by outside agency,” so that includes homicides and suicides as well as accidents for firearms, cars, etc.

    The annual “death by firearms” statistics would have to be astoundingly lower for legal fatal shootings by civilians during actual crime situations (about 160 a year) to be considered statistically significant.

  3. A Real Capper « NotionsCapital Says:

    [...] entertaining for people who are not residents of Washington and don’t have to live — or die — with the [...]

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