“For the first time in more than 60 years, firearms and automobiles are killing Americans at an identical rate, according to new mortality data released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” washingtonpost.com reports. “The convergence of the trend lines above is driven primarily by a sharp drop in the rate of motor vehicle fatalities since 1950.” And there you have it. Gun ownership isn’t getting more dangerous, driving is becoming less dangerous. In fact, the chart above is entirely misleading, as the article’s text indicates . . .
Gun homicide rates have actually fallen in recent years, but those gains have been offset by rising gun suicide rates. Today, suicides account for roughly two out of every three gun deaths.
Take a moment to take that in. If you remove firearms-related suicides from the overall stats, “gun violence” is falling. Those two lines wouldn’t meet. If you removed criminals from the population of Americans killed by “gun violence” the “gun violence” line would be bumping along the bottom of that chart. Oh wait, here’s the chart!
Gun control has no effect on suicide, as evidenced by “gun-free” Japan’s dramatically higher suicide rate (18.5 per 100k vs. U.S.’ 12.1 per 100k). But separating suicides from the “gun violence” total wouldn’t suit the assault media’s anti-gun agenda. To wit: the Post uses the top chart – prepared by the notorious anti-gun research Garen Wintermute – as a launch pad in its endless campaign for civilian disarmament. Like this:
The steady decline in motor vehicle deaths over the past 65 years can be attributed to a combination of improved technology and smarter regulation. The federal government mandated the presence of seat belts in the 1960s. The ’70s brought anti-lock brakes. The ’80s brought an increased focus on drunk driving and mandatory seat belt use. Airbags came along in the ’90s. More recent years have seen mandates on electronic stability systems, increased penalties for distracted driving and forthcoming requirements for rear-view cameras.
The result has been safer cars, safer roads, better drivers and a decades-long decline in motor vehicle fatalities, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
By contrast, the history of American gun control regulation has been more erratic. Restrictions passed in earlier eras, such as the assault weapons ban, have been undone recently. During the George W. Bush administration, Congress passed laws that prohibited law enforcement from publicizing data showing where criminals obtained their guns and granted gunmakers immunity from some civil lawsuits.
Technological advances, like smart-gun technology that prevents people other than the owner from firing a gun, have been stymied by opposition from the National Rifle Association and from many gun owners. Modest regulatory changes, including universal background checks, enjoy overwhelming support from gun owners and the American public. But those, too, have been thwarted under pressure from gun-rights advocates and the NRA.
The result? A gun mortality rate that’s slightly higher than where it stood 50 years ago. Particularly vexing is that there may be ways to improve gun safety and reduce firearm deaths — particularly suicides — that haven’t even been thought of yet. But innovations in gun safety are hard to come by, in large part because of Congress’s longstanding ban on many types of federal gun research.
Yes! If we – and by “we” we mean Garen Wintermute and his right thinking supporters – could overcome the evil NRA’s opposition to secure a proper suckle on the federal tit to research our foregone conclusions, federal regulations could do for guns what they did for cars! Make them safer! Regulations like . . . the assault weapons ban. (Pay no attention to that taxpayer funded DOJ study that concluded that an assault weapon ban would have no impact on violent crime.) Modest regulatory changes!
Luckily, most Americans view death as a part of life, if they think about it at all. They put on their seatbelt and drive, enjoying the automobile’s mobility benefits without worrying about dying in a pile of twisted metal. By the same token, they handle their guns safely and (occasionally) shoot, enjoying firearms’ security benefits without worrying about shooting themselves in the head (while remembering the gun’s ability to prevent them and their family from getting shot in the head).
One more thing: the right to keep and bear arms is a natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right. Driving is a privilege. Apples and oranges people. Apples and oranges.