Gun control activists have spent decades talking about how “firearms are deadly weapons” and whinging about “easy access to firearms.” It’s an attempt to scare people into supporting new gun control legislation — raising the perceived threat high enough that the public demands their rights be removed in the name of safety.

Recently we’ve seen the debate shift. Instead of treating firearms as talismans of evil and fetishistic objects of murder, saner, cooler heads have been looking at the root cause of “gun violence”, particularly suicide, no matter what the tool used.

But just as we’ve finally started thinking about effective countermeasures to limit violence, a group of doctors raised their hands and asked “but wait, why don’t we focus on the evil deadly weapons instead?”

The American Journal of Preventitive Medicine’sĀ study is entitledĀ Broadening the Perspective on Gun Violence: An Examination of the Firearms Industry. It examines two factors: whether there are more firearms in the United States than there were in the 1990s, and whether firearms are more deadly (as determined solely by caliber).

Naturally, the answer to both of these questions is “yes.”

In a vacuum, these results might seem pretty damning to the gun rights folks. “Look at all these deadly guns on the streets! This is terrible!” And yet, even with all that firepower in private hands, things have only gotten better.

Crime peaked in the early 1990’s and has been dropping dramatically ever since, “gun violence” included. If these deadlier and more prolific firearms were causing more firearms-related injury and death we would have seen the exact opposite result. Using their “logic” you could even make the argument that the deadlier firearms have made America safer.

Somehow I don’t think that’s the result the [Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded] team of doctors and researchers were looking for. With thanks to Everytown for Gun Safety. Here’s their conclusion:

Ultimately, a better understanding of the products on the market may have implications for improving firearms as consumer products, such as fostering changes in design to increase safety or changes in corporate practices to better protect consumers, as has been done for tobacco products.

Vernick and Teret have outlined six potential areas in which a better understanding of firearms and firearm manufacturer practices could contribute to the development of novel strategies:

(1) implementing safety standards;
(2) reducing firearm lethality;
(3) implementing surveillance and recall protocols;
(4) improving oversight of dealers;
(5) ensuring responsible advertising; and
(6) enhancing accountability.

This paper cannot in itself provide definitive solutions, but it may help inform debate as well as provide a basis for further research.

Or not.

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42 Responses to Study: Guns Getting ‘More Deadly’ While Death Rate Declines

    • I would assume that means less deadly calibers like a .22LR, but that can’t be right you can kill anything from a squirrel to a human to a bear with proper placement

      Maybe they mean less deadly by plugging the barrels

      • Foam ear plugs for bullets?

        Maybe restrict legal firearms to be made only of wood (including the barrel and action) and fire only pebbles.

        Shotguns firing goose down?

        Air guns using only lung power?

        Maybe guns that are powered only by the collective intelligence of the authors of this study – those would be pretty weak.

        • Foam earplugs make GREAT indoor practice bulleta for .44 mag or .44 special. Just use the primer only, no powder.

          It’ll get that cat off the table once and for all. No it doesn’t hurt anyone.

    • Replacing firing pins with tiny little speakers that only go “Pew! Pew!” then wirelessly summon government-funded violence counselors to help crime victims understand how they should be “giving back” more to the “community” of predators.

    • I’m sure they mean a European style restriction on police or military calibers.

      Which isn’t really related to the verbiage used. But that’s par for the course.

    • “reducing firearm lethality”

      Sure, when I can have a phaser with ‘stun’, ‘kill’, and ‘disintegrate’. I’ll keep it on the latter most of the time.

    • It would mean more chance of take down less chance of fatality.
      The problem is that the ratio won’t help if the accuracy, range or speed of delivery is less.

  1. “Reducing firearm lethality”?

    Like reducing vehicle drivability?
    Reducing computer usability?
    reducing airplane flyability?
    reducing ship maneuverability?

    Do they actually think before they write things? The point of a gun is to cause mechanical trauma. That’s a feature, not a bug.

  2. Here is a quote from the article that pretty much sums up the motives of the researchers:

    “By closely examining the firearm industry and its manufacturing practices, this paper builds on efforts to reframe gun violence as a societal public health problem rather than simply individual crimes, advancing a public health approach to the problem of firearm violence.”

    The idea of unbiased research has been overwhelmed by “results-oriented” research. I would not be at all surprised if an anti-gun organization provided financing for this poorly conceived “study.”

    • If they’re building a study around “gun violence,” then any veneer of objectivity or rigor is thin indeed. In effect, they’re studying a figment of some social engineer’s fever dreams. Changing people by controlling things…it’s the cargo cult aspect of Marxism.

  3. “and whether firearms are more deadly (as determined solely by caliber).”

    Oh god not the imortal deadliest caliber debate. If I’m ever shot by a gun I don’t really care how not-as-deadly it is on paper, it’s gonna hurt

    As to the list
    (1) 4 rules of gun safety are how old? And they are immensely more effective than any ‘design feature’
    (2) I’ll only buy a less deadly gun (which is an oxymoron btw a 22lr will kill you real good) if the police and militaries of the world are restricted from owning these more deadly guns too
    (3) what could possibly go wrong with a government watch list that outlines all the potential enemies of the state? Oh and how well did that work in France with the last hit and attempt to spree guy? Wasn’t he on a government watch list and still allowed to own firearms?
    (4) see answer (3)
    (5) in other words restrict any positive message about guns to support your agenda. Please reference the First amendment
    (6) utterly meaningless and broad statement. This is clearly a repeat of answer (3) and (4), please reference answer (3)

    These idiots can’t even come up with a new idea. They peddle this same crap in every ‘study’ which has time and time again been proven to be utterly ineffective and your own politicians broke the law circumventing these practices to ‘trace’ guns across the border and even within our borders

    • One point of disagreement: “Enhancing Accountability” isn’t necessarily an empty phrase. On the contrary, it’s alarmingly loaded.

      It can mean virtually anything. For instance, putting peaceful, law-abiding people like you and me in jail for wrongthink, confiscating our property, or otherwise punishing us for someone else’s crime.

      The entire anti-gun movement turns on demanding “accountability” from scapegoats who had nothing to do with the actual problem.

      • I see your point, I was thinking meaningless in terms of no defined purpose and broad to support that it could mean anything and nothing depending on who is in charge at that time.

        I agree that anything sufficiently vague and broad as that statement is ideal for politicians to abuse

        • I think we’re both right. It’s both meaningless and terrifyingly evocative. (To the progressive mind this is a feature, not a bug.)

    • Yes they will next publish a research paper determining that 45 really does kill you much more dead than a mere 9mm.

      Look for the TTAG headline ” Liberal anti gun pu@@ies prove 45 is most awsome handgun caliber because …science !”

  4. (1) implementing safety standards;
    With respect to what “safety issues”? Modern semiautomatic firearms are almost universally drop proof, and many have “nanny state” features such as loaded chamber indicators, mag interlocks and manual safeties.
    (2) reducing firearm lethality;
    Ummm huh? If you are hunting, lethality is key to ethical hunting, and if you are defending yourself from a violent attack, lethality is key to survival. What kind of kool-aide are these fools drinking?
    (3) implementing surveillance and recall protocols;
    Uh, guys, guns are subject to the same products liability exposure for a defectively manufactured or engineered product as any other manufacturer. So we got this already.
    (4) improving oversight of dealers;
    Why is this necessary? The feds are ressponsible, and they have only so much manpower. How many “bad apple” dealer do you think there are?
    (5) ensuring responsible advertising; and
    what is responsible advertising, and why do you think it makes a difference? POG do their homework before plopping down hard earned dollars, and all that the ads do is whet their appetites, not sell them on a gun.
    (6) enhancing accountability.
    This is a totally meaningless phrase; the only thing it can mean is overturning the statutory protections of manufacturers to claims for injuries and deaths arising from nondefective weapons, without which manufacturers will not survive the ensuing litigation. Oh wait, that’s a feature, not a bug, right? I see what you did there!

  5. Scaring people in order to achieve a political goal…. Al Gore and the coming Ice Age/Global Warming. Prohibition. The NFA 1934. It’s what the left does with skill, and what governments do in general. Gun control will fail for the same reason Prohibition failed. The government lacks the resources to enforce it. Civil disobedience during Prohibition resulted in an estimated anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasy clubs in New York City alone, in 1925. A number of states never did institute prohibition. An the last state ended prohibition in 1966. There are still dry counties and states with “blue laws”. The NFA never did stop the mobs of Chicago from shooting up the city and countryside. Even Australia’s government admits that there are at least 256,000 firearms which were not turned in… at the most conservative estimate. In the UK, handguns are proliferating and increasingly used in store robberies.
    In the mountains of Afghanistan, small shops are turning out AKs, ammo, and other weapons with hand tools.

    Once the genie is out of the bottle, you can never get it back in no matter what laws are passed.

  6. How many doctors with how many degrees does it take to completely misunderstand the situation? The paper has eight authors.

    Comparing guns to tobacco is like comparing puppies to Volkswagens, in that it’s a really stupid analogy.

  7. AJPM, Association for Prevention Teaching and Research, lives up to its name as a medical association whose actions are preventing the teaching of firearms education, 2nd Amendment acceptance and the understanding of its position as a bedrock of US civil rights, in lieu of any bearing on this topic, I wish to have an enlargement of this issue by hearing what the Association for the American Lather Industry, the American Plastic Table Association, and the Brotherhood of the Canned Beans and Franks Industry has to say about this!

    • The AALI would like you to rinse and repeat, the APTA has not returned calls asking for comment and the ABCBFI is good either way but is working on a survey of customers to establish the rates of preference for chopped onions.

  8. Doctors need to clean up their own act first. The number of Americans murdered by lazy, careless and /or incompetent healthcare professionals every year is 40 times the number of murders by firearms.

    • Came here to say that, but you beat me to it.
      It’s because doctors “practice” medicine.
      We actually do shoot guns. Not to brag, but I’m rather good at it.

      • Actually, there are a lot of parallels here. In either field, you’re always practicing; there’s no such thing as getting it perfect every time.

        A multitude of variables, some nominally in your control and others unpredictable, can confound your best efforts at times. And errors can (more often in medicine and far less often in firearms than we’re led to believe) sometimes be fatal.

        Also, when you’re in dire need of either a doctor or a gun, no substitute will do the job. Despite the manifest dangers, both save far more lives than they take.

        Nobody in their right mind wants access to doctors restricted only to the wealthy and well-connected or subject to the whims of unaccountable bureaucrats. Yet doctors continually advocate exactly that for life-saving ballistic devices.

        One thing doctors generally don’t do that a gun can virtually always do: put a great big grin on your face. In that way, there’s no comparison at all.

        • “Nobody in their right mind wants [1] access to doctors restricted only to the wealthy and well-connected or [2] subject to the whims of unaccountable bureaucrats.” To be fair, that sounds an awful lot like the what 1, the Democrats are saying Republicans are trying, and 2, what Republicans have been saying Obamacare is.

        • Yes, TX_Lawyer, this is true. I tend to think neither side is in their right mind. They’re both proposing stupid, half-assed political solutions to a complex, nonpolitical problem.

        • Seems like we could fix this ‘big grin’ shortage at the Drs office (and get people in for those well care visits) with a small change in the prescribing guidelines…4mg IV dilaudid per patient per visit ought to do it. Anyone not reacting to that dose should probably be assessed for opiate abuse.

    • Murder is such a strong word. I’m thinking something along the lines of “criminally negligent homicide” or “manslaughter.”

      Honestly, a lot of the time it’s more along the lines of “civilly negligent homicide” (wrongful death). I would say I just coined a phrase, but google found a single instance of it. Damn you Thomas Lundy, Editor and Chief of Forecite California!

  9. Hmm, let’s try running this through Babelfish…Anti-gun speak to English….

    (1) implementing safety standards;
    -Restricting your 2nd Amendment rights.

    (2) reducing firearm lethality;
    -Restricting your 2nd Amendment rights.

    (3) implementing surveillance and recall protocols;
    -The ATF will be watching you (assuming they weren’t already).

    (4) improving oversight of dealers;
    -The ATF will be watching your LGS, too.

    (5) ensuring responsible advertising;
    -Making sure our Fee-Fees aren’t hurt by images of cool-looking guns.

    (6) enhancing accountability.
    -Opening the door to litigation that will allow us to sue gun dealers and manufacturers out of business, thus allowing us to scuttle the 2nd Amendment by back door means.

  10. Sorry Hoplophobes…..I want my firearms as deadly as possible. Ammunition is expensive. If I am forced to defend my life against a criminal, I want to have to use as few rounds as possible of my expensive ammo to end the threat…..permanently!

  11. if you have to fire in self defense shouldn’t the state reimburse you for your ammo and if you get hurt shouldn’t they pay the bill since their whole scam is we’ll protect you so you don’t have to. if not why is anyone worried about what you use to save your own self.(I was going to use a different word)

  12. The lowly 22lr has probably killed more people, deer, rats, snakes, and squirrels! Not because it’s an elephant killer, it’s just because it’s the most commonly used caliber.
    A lot of the people who want you disarmed are the same ones that your taxes pay for gun toting Secret Service .. Even at that we have had presidents shot, some killed, others seriously wounded.
    As best I know, my Grandfather, a rancher, only had a 22lr rifle. Dispatched rattle snakes. a huge hog for the table and Jack Rabbits for food for his Border Collie.
    The best caliber is the one you have in a weapon when needed.

  13. Here’s what I see

    (1) implementing safety standards = Electronic fingerprint safeties.
    (2) reducing firearm lethality = Magazine capacity and firearm type restrictions (another AW ban)
    (3) implementing surveillance and recall protocols = Universal firearm registration and owners lists.
    (4) improving oversight of dealers = No kitchen table FFL’s
    (5) ensuring responsible advertising = First amendment restrictions
    (6) enhancing accountability = Criminal penalties for failing to report a stolen firearm.

    This shit is not hard to see through at all.

    • Klause, I’m fairly certain they started with your translations, then fabricated most of the study, with the only real effort being expended deciding what language would be best to cloak these things they want.
      These sorts of studies are rather clumsy and transparent fodder for the gun control crowd. One wonders how much longer they will persist in the creation of such drivel. I suppose they must see some sort of value in it, as propaganda. I suspect that such things are more obvious to the average person than the antis like to think. I also think people dislike crude and blatant attempts at manipulation less than the antis realize, and that these sorts of things cost them at least as much as they gain.

      Consider this: in 100 years, will these studies be part of the body of scientific work, or take their place alongside phrenology texts and devices for shaking fat from one’s middle?

  14. If the raw number of and percentage of assaults and homicides go down and the number of suicides holds steady then “gun” “violence” will become more “lethal”.

    And the suicide argument is a litmus test for gun control proponents. You really do want to get rid of all guns if you want to prevent suicides by them as (almost) any gun will do the job.

  15. “We thank Ted Alcorn at Everytown for Gun Safety for his helpful comments on the manuscript.”

    Let’s say the truth. Every town asked us to publish this paper for them.

  16. The problem is as always a matter of wishing to treat firearms as a consumer product, and deaths as a result of a defective product.

    “Ultimately, a better understanding of the products on the market may have implications for improving firearms as consumer products, such as fostering changes in design to increase safety or changes in corporate practices to better protect consumers, as has been done for tobacco products.”

    The concept of a firearm as an offensive weapon which is intended to stop a criminal attack and/or kill an attacker seems to elude them. This belays a certain naivete regarding the purpose and design of a firearm. The issue is not a safety issue, as a properly functioning firearm MUST discharge a projectile within a certain velocity range, so as to do grievous bodily injury to the recipient.

    These are exactly the issues we as gun owners and users need to repeat, often and loudly. The reason such suggestions are feckless are due to their fundamental misunderstanding of firearms.

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