President Obama: Firearms “One of the Leading Causes of Death in the U.S.”

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newrepublic.com dropped their interview with President Obama this morning. We’ve already posted on the President’s mad shooting skillz and gerrymandering blame game. And now . . . Executive Orders. [Full transcript after the jump.] Mr. Obama reckons they’re A-OK if he decides “we can’t afford not to do it.” Bonus! They’re less likely to be reversed by pesky democratic processes or judicial review. The Prez cites the EO eradicating the Congressional ban on funding for research into firearms-related violence, calling gun deaths the “one of the leading causes of death in the United States of America.” In fact, “gun violence” (including firearms-related suicides) doesn’t even crack the CDC’s top fifteen. So much for “immediate-enough import.” Oh and click here for the news that Attorney General Eric Holder’s will keep NICS firearms records beyond the Congressionally mandated ten year period, relying on one of the Prez’s 23 Sandy Hook memorial gun control Executive Orders.

The New Republic: It seems as if you’re relying more on executive orders to get around these problems. You’ve done it for gun control, for immigration. Has your view on executive authority changed now that you’ve been president for four years?

President Obama: I don’t think it’s changed. I continue to believe that whenever we can codify something through legislation, it is on firmer ground. It’s not going to be reversed by a future president. It is something that will be long lasting and sturdier and more stable.

So a great example of that is the work we did on “don’t ask, don’t tell.” There were advocates in the LGBT community who were furious at me, saying, “Why don’t you just sign with a pen ordering the Pentagon to do this?” And my argument was that we could build a coalition to get this done, that having the Pentagon on our side and having them work through that process so that they felt confident they could continue to carry out their missions effectively would make it last and make it work for the brave men and women, gays and lesbians, who were serving not just now but in the future.

And the proof of the pudding here is that not only did we get the law passed, but it’s caused almost no controversy. It’s been almost thoroughly embraced, whereas had I just moved ahead with an executive order, there would have been a huge blowback that might have set back the cause for a long time.

But what I do see is that there are certain issues where a judicious use of executive power can move the argument forward or solve problems that are of immediate-enough import that we can’t afford not to do it. And today, just to take an example, the notion that we wouldn’t be collecting information on gun violence just to understand how it happens, why it happens, what might reduce it—that makes no sense. We shouldn’t require legislation for the CDC to be able to gather information about one of the leading causes of death in the United States of America.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

45 Responses to President Obama: Firearms “One of the Leading Causes of Death in the U.S.”

  1. avatarS.CROCK says:

    does this mean the President has told a lie? i am shocked.

  2. avatarAnonymous says:

    Self-harm is number 10 on the list. Assuming firearms are 50% of it (not a terrible assumption, based on link 1), that gets us a “rate” of about 6. About 60% of “gun deaths” are suicides, so that gets us a very very rough estimate of 10. Which would put it at number 13 on the list.

    Link 1: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-in-the-us-statistics-and-prevention/index.shtml

    • avatarWill says:

      Only problem is suicide rates run independent of method. Remove one method and the methods will adjust accordingly, with the overall number not changing.

      • avatarAnonymous says:

        Never said otherwise. :)

        There’s also the fact that it’s an absolute drop in the bucket compared to other death factors…

        • avatar16V says:

          Exactly, just look at japan’s suicide numbers and methods.

          Twice the US, and nary a gun used…

    • avatarBrock says:

      Anonymous, thank you so much. I finally see the light. My wife should be denied the best tools to defend herself and our children because someone might hurt themselves. If it saves one life, it’s worth it. /s

      Maybe a small data set, but I’ve had 2 friends commit suicide, 1 by knife and one by train. To me, it seems people will find a way.

      • avatarAnonymous says:

        Jesus H. Christ bro, I’m as pro-gun as they come. I’m just saying the facts are the facts.

        And yes, suicide methods can be altered pretty easily. South Korea has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, and leads the world in suicide rate.

        The USA’s combined total of homicide (4.8 per 100k) and suicide (12.0), from all causes and by all methods is 16.8 per 100k. Japan has a suicide rate of 21.9 per 100k, and South Korea has a suicide rate of 31.7. Both of these countries have even stricter gun laws than the UK, and yet their suicide rates are sky-high.

        • avatarTotenglocke says:

          Jesus H. Christ bro, I’m as pro-gun as they come

          Maybe for a New York City politician. We’ve seen your posts plenty of times – we know that your only complaint with Feinstein is that she doesn’t go far enough.

        • avatarScott Henrichs says:

          More proof is that suicide while incarcerated in this country is 4 times the national average. Behind bars, under supervision, and without guns.

        • avatarOddux says:

          I see what Anonymous is saying. He’s not saying Obama is RIGHT, just simply pointing out how someone can construe the facts to mean what Obama said, in the way politicians often do- by technicalities that don’t hold up to reality. Obama was being duplicitous without lying outright.

          Technically if you divided suicide by firearm and suicide by other means, they would both be in those 15 causes of death. In reality, the chart was right not to make that distinction since suicide has nothing to do with the tools used. Suicide is caused when desperation and despair is allowed to become stronger than the instinctive need to live. No means of suicide is “easy” and removing one of those means will not stop suicide, they will find another means to release themselves from that despair. This has been demonstrated before in Australia and other countries when upon banning firearms, suicide rates by other means increased by the same amount by which suicide rates by firearms dropped.

          So suicide just becomes another cause that is used to target our 2nd amendment right, even when it is obvious that infringing that right will not solve the problem, just like gang violence or mass shootings.

  3. avatarAccur81 says:

    “Good” public speaker, not such a good president. Particularly if it comes to balancing the budget, protecting the 2A, or being factual. America got what it voted for, but I didn’t.

    • avatarTotenglocke says:

      Anyone can be a great speaker with someone else writing the speech and putting it on a teleprompter for you to read.

      • avatarAlphaGeek says:

        So, you’ll be running for office to prove this, right?

        Please be sure to post YouTube links of your performance using a speechwriter and a TelePrompTer. (Autocorrect inserted the geeky capitalization, not me.)

        • avatarBill says:

          WTF are you talking about? Anybody with half a brain can see the obvious: Obama can read prepared speeches from a teleprompter. Once he is on his own, he sounds like a confused 2nd grader.

        • avatarLeo338 says:

          Bill he knows that, he tries to justify his vote for Obama at any chance.

  4. avatarJoey says:

    Anyone else sick of statistics being thrown around by everyone? I understand pointing out when people don’t cite statistics or make them up, but in all seriousness, what if all the statistics were against guns. What if guns were the number one cause of death in the US? Would that change what the 2nd amendment says? The way we argue statistics with gun-controllers makes seem that if they were right with statistics, it would mean something.
    On the flip side of that, people will argue that we haven’t had any reason to fear government oppression since our founding (that’s debatable), but this is somehow used to prove that we don’t need the 2nd amendment because it doesn’t happen often enough (one time was too many for me). This is the same ignorance I hear from parents who don’t want their kids vaccinated; we don’t need vaccination for polio because there are not outbreaks anymore! Well, there are no outbreaks BECAUSE we vaccinate. There is no outright government oppression BECAUSE we are armed. Man, this whole thing wears me down. How am I supposed to study for my pathophysiology exam with all of this going on?

    • avatarDrVino says:

      Use it as a springboard for reviewing autonomic response to trauma. You’ll cover all of cardiovascular and then move to acid-base and renal. ;)

    • avatarAnonymous says:

      “in all seriousness, what if all the statistics were against guns. What if guns were the number one cause of death in the US? Would that change what the 2nd amendment says? ”

      No, but the Second Amendment could be amended away if there was enough public support for it. I’d support its repeal if it were actually bad. But it isn’t. And the numbers are on our side. Why not use them? :D

    • avatarg says:

      Try being a teacher and explaining to the hyper-paranoid parent that they need to educate themselves about the science of vaccination and protect their kid. Sure, you can choose to not get them vaccinated… but you’re not going to school with other kids so you can spread polio.

      Oh, and why do they have to be fancy and say “malignant neoplasms” for #2 when they mean cancer?

      Hmmm, first world problems.

    • avatarSkeev says:

      60% of the time, I’m tired of statistics every time.

  5. avatarTHETRUTH says:

    it seems like all the guns grabbers just pulled whatever shit out of their ass and throw at the public to see what will stick.
    This attempt for AWB has gone ridiculously stupid that my wife and I don’t bother to follow any more. All the guns grabbers will shoot themselves in their feet due to their stupidities!!!!

  6. avatarNobody says:

    I don’t get what you mean about the “blame game” remark. President Obama has even honored his opposition by Presidential Proclamation:

    The San Andreas Fault will now be known as Republican’s Fault.

  7. avatarGazzer says:

    What if guns were the number one cause of death in the US? Would that change what the 2nd amendment says?

    Could not agree more. We are Americans. We git ‘er done. If it’s suicide, we will use the best tool for the job, naturally. None of which has anything to do with my God given right to bear arms. Also, why is no-one kicking up a ruckus about the fact that the Rozzers took 20 minutes to show up at Sandy Hook?

  8. avatarIn Memphis says:

    I don’t have enough asprin on my ambulance to get rid of the pounding headache and minor chest pain this man gives me.

    Did he seriously say that we shouldn’t gather information to back up and prove him right? That we just have to act blindly and fVck the truth?

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      The contrary. He wants unfettered ability for the CDC and the GAO to gather and analyze data on firearms usage and related crime.

      People are assuming that because President Obama want it, then it must be bad. This is incorrect. His party clearly believes that more data and more studies will prove them right, and boy howdy do they have a surprise waiting when the honest-by-training scientists and stats wonks come back with answers that destroy their hypotheses.

      Anyone who believes that more guns = less crime should strongly support improved data and more studies, regardless of who is proposing same.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      The contrary. He wants unfettered ability for the CDC and the GAO to gather and analyze data on firearms usage and related crime.

      People are assuming that because President Obama want it, then it must be bad. This is incorrect. His party clearly believes that more data and more studies will prove them right, and boy howdy do they have a surprise waiting when the honest-by-training scientists and stats wonks come back with answers that destroy their hypotheses.

      If you believe that more guns = less crime, you should strongly support improved data and more studies, regardless of who is proposing same.

    • avatarScott Henrichs says:

      Naw. That was his dig at the NRA for blocking the CDC from compiling evidence on guns. Like all statistics and reports it would be twisted and cherry picked to support his anti-gun campaign.

  9. avatarJeff O. says:

    That CDC report is interesting.

    Here are a few things I learned:
    In 2010:
    606 firearms “Accidents”
    19392 firearms suicides
    11078 firearms homicides
    252 discharges of firearms, undetermined intent.
    31328 total deaths.

    Accidentals death: Falls – 26009. Poisoning – 33041. Motor vehicle – 35332.

    So really, statistically, you stand a better chance of poisoning yourself or getting killed in a car wreck than ANY firearm related death. And even then, it depends. If you live in a low homicide area, and aren’t depressed, you might fall to your death.

    That’s if you don’t die from heart failure first.

    • avatarg says:

      Heart failure is more common than people think… especially with obesity rates, stress, and an aging population of baby boomers.

      Hug your loved ones.

  10. avatarMikeP says:

    Check this out: Feinstein admits “assault weapons” are just the start … and accuses the NRA of “providing” weapons to children (she wouldn’t be referring to shooting safety classes using .22LR rifles provided for the participants under professional supervision would she?)

    http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2013/01/27/Feinstein-NRA-is-Venal-She-vows-to-Go-After-More-Than-assault-weapons

    • avatarWiregrass says:

      Yes, teaching children safe handling of firearms and respect for firearms safety is such an awful thing.

  11. avatarUSMCVeteran says:

    And here I thought that people are the major cause of death in Amerika. BO, as usual, panders to the gullibility of the ignorant.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      Eating habits, smoking and driving kill far more people than guns in the US. Excluding drunk drivers, but including the majority of gun deaths that are suicide, the person most likely to cause your untimely death is you.

  12. avatarLance says:

    We say Obama bin lying for a reason RF!

  13. avatarCA_Chris says:

    I call BS on that ranking list. It is the worst sort of statistical manipulation.

    First, it fails to list the numbers of death for each cause, giving the impression that each item on the list is comparable in numbers to the others. The number of heart disease deaths in 2009 according to the CDC was just under 600,000. The number of suicides was in the low 30,000s (go look up the CDC website if you want exact figures). The level of danger from the top to the bottom of that list drops exponentially, but the list suggests only a linear change.

    Second, the categories in such a list can be combined or split as desired until the item you wish to elevate has been raised to the level you wish, as I believe was done for this list. Vehicular deaths are not listed (I assume they are lumped into the accident category along with falls and electrocutions), yet as a cause of death vehicles are in the low 30,000 deaths per year range making it comparable to suicide on the list. Many such lists of causes of death split larger categories into smaller groupings when there is a logical or statistical reason to do so: such as the fact that data on vehicle deaths is collected separately from data on electrocutions, and that the circumstances are different and the rate of deaths far higher from vehicle accidents than from accidental electrocution.

    Third, this sort of list has the same shortcoming as rankings that compare countries: it is blind to geography. The rate of death from suicide is much higher in some parts of the country (such as Alaska) than others. This list does not reflect my rate risk for any of these past the top few which account for the vast majority of deaths anywhere in the US. The rate of death from homicide is far lower in most rural areas than in nearly any urban area. So too is the rate of death from vehicle accidents. If you wanted to create a proper listing of the risks of death from any one cause for any one person you would find that the US as a whole does not have a gun violence problem, only its cities do. Just a few years ago the strongly liberal city of San Francisco was one of the highest ranked cities for homicide in the US, because of its small dense population (about 800,000 residents living in a 7 mile x 7 mile space) and a savage drug gang war in its ghettos and neighboring cities.

  14. avatarSamlAdams says:

    Maybe if you add in the mortality rates in the extra seven states guns are a leading cause of death?

  15. avatarAharon says:

    Are firearm related deaths even in the top 50 or 100? Annually, even hammers and clubs kill more Americans than guns.

    Here is a link to the NYT blog and would you believe they have not even listed gun deaths on their list. Perhaps that is on purpose?
    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/31/how-scared-should-we-be/

  16. avatarGw says:

    If laws of any type, in and of themselves, actually prohibited crime, ( including but not limited to only ‘gun-related’ crimes ), then simple logic would suggest the region with the most laws would have the least amount of crime, correct?
    If the presence of armed agents of government actually prevented crime, then simple logic would suggest a region likely to have the most armed agents of government per square mile anywhere in America would have the least amount of crime, correct?
    If the presence of a high profile Violence Prevention Organization actually prevented crime, then simple logic would suggest the region in which the home office of the most prominent Violence Prevention Organization in America is located would be the region with the least amount of crime, correct?
    Consider then as you may, a particular region of less than 100 sq. miles, a resident population of around 600,000+ or so, teeming with multitudes of armed agents of government from named and unnamed alphabet agencies and numerous departments, AND the location of the home office of the Brady Campaign.
    Name of region? District of Criminals, uh, Columbia.
    Number of crimes for year 2011? 35,358
    Types of crimes listed: Homicide, Forcible Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Larceny/Theft, Stolen Auto, Arson.
    Source: Metropolitan Police Department.
    http://mpdc.dc.gov/page/crime-statistics-citywide
    Oh, and about the number of laws? Exactly how many Federal codes, rules, regulations & etc. there are ‘on the books‘? No one knows, but evidently not enough.

    And BTW, Could there possibly be some ‘reason’ for intentionally misdirecting the funding appropriated and the primary purpose for establishment of the Center for Disease Control to try and uh, ’understand’ how uh, ’gun violence’, uh, happens?
    Of course there is. Their ‘understanding’ will conclusively prove that GUN VIOLENCE is a PUBLIC HEALTH issue.
    Meaning? What can’t be accomplished by Executive Edict, shoved through Congress or the Courts, or by intimidation of businesses and their owners by the A.G. and other government functionaries and their familiars, must be implemented under the radar via Obamacare. Simple really.

  17. avatarSoccerchainsaw says:

    “It’s been almost thoroughly embraced, whereas had I just moved ahead with an executive order, there would have been a huge blowback that might have set back the cause for a long time.”

    Translation: …there would have been a huge blowback that might have cost me the election.

  18. avatarmc says:

    That’s it, I’m petitioning the government to outlaw hearts. Can’t have them failing on us and killing us left and right… Dangerous and unreliable things, them hearts… got to get them off the streets, away from our children.

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