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Firearms homicides vs. firearms-related suicides (courtesy

The NRA scored another victory last week when they torpedoed the nomination of 36-year-old Mr. Vivek Murthy for the post of Surgeon General. And a good thing too. As we reported back in December, the founder of Doctors for Obama is an unrepentant proponent of civilian disarmament. Murthy expressed his desire for doctors to quiz patients about gun ownership and then keep a record of their reply – creating a de facto gun registry. (Amongst other things.) The left-leaning, gun-hating media isn’t happy that their man Murthy must now dine out as a victim of “gun lobby extremism.” Here’s The Atlantic‘s take . . .

“Mr. Murthy’s not just a gun control supporter, he’s a gun control activist,” the [NRA] wrote. “And it’s clear that his agenda is to treat a constitutional freedom like a disease.”

Sorry, that’s not an Atlantic criticism of the NRA’s anti-Murthy campaign per se. But it is brilliant. Where was I? Oh right, suicide . . .

One of the NRA’s sticking points, though, is that Murthy once tweeted, “Guns are a health care issue.” It’s not immediately clear what Murthy means by that.

Sorry. Me again. Just a quick note. Atlantic writer Olga Khazan is being disingenuous. Murthy Tweeted a lot more than that single, supposedly obtuse comment. A quick scan of Murthy’s other firearms-related Tweets makes it entirely clear that the good doctor is solidly pro-gun control. Suicide. Right.

The NRA claims that guns are used more than 2 million times a year for self-defense (though social scientists think it’s closer to 100,000 times.) And it’s healthy to want to defend yourself.

Murthy has already said that he plans to use his office to work on obesity, not guns. But looking at the instances in which firearm use ends in death, it becomes clear that there’s a health case to be made for gun control, too.

Guns are far more likely to be used in suicides than in killing assailants.

I’m confused. If guns were more likely to be used for killing assailants – ignoring the hundreds of thousands of times a law-abiding citizen used a firearm to lawfully to deter an assailant without injury or loss of life – would gun control NOT be a health care issue? What if they were equal?

As hard as this is to understand for Ms. Khazan to understand, guns are vital to the health of American society (hence the Second Amendment). Even if new gun laws could reduce suicide rates – and Japan says they can’t – the restrictions on Americans natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms would (and do) engender violent crime, both by criminal predators and the government. Which would create a net loss in terms of lives saved. Big time.

“Removing all firearms from one’s home is one of the most effective and straightforward steps that household decision-makers can take to reduce the risk of suicide,” Harvard health policy professor Matthew Miller said in 2007. “Removing firearms may be especially effective in reducing the risk of suicide among adolescents and other potentially impulsive members of their home.”

Even if you don’t consider gun control to be a healthcare issue, suicide certainly is, and statistics show that the two are intertwined.

While it’s true that removing firearms from the homes of people suffering from mental illness is an excellent idea, tasking the government with doing so – either by pre-emptive gun control laws or “emergency intervention” (Dr. Murthy’s registry would be helpful there) – is a political issue. In the same sense that recommending that people cut down on sugary drink consumption is a healthcare issue while banning 16-ounce drinks is a political issue. Something to do with freedom.

Dr. Murthy doesn’t understand the difference. Which is why he shouldn’t be Surgeon General. The Atlantic‘s Olga Khazan does know there’s a line between individual freedom and Nanny State intervention. Which she crosses with gay abandon. And then wraps her argument in misleading stats, hiding her real agenda behind her concern for the well-being of others. Thank God for the NRA.

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  1. Suicides are a mental health issue… Just like every school shooting. Let’s demonize inanimate objects and continue to ignore real world issues.

    • I worked in suicide prevention in grad school. Although I have not worked in that field for 25 years I do follow the literature and studies.

      Here is what we know.
      We likely properly count 99% of gun suicide as such. Unless you have the foresight to lay out gun cleaning supplies a self inflicted shot to the head is presumptive suicide according to the way coroners work.

      The opposite is true for most other methods of suicide. Most intentional drug overdoses are ruled accidental absent a direct suicide note. Phillip Seymour Hoffman can pump himself with a 4x lethal dose and it is an “accident.” Same with many “falls” from heights and into trains — same with an enormous number of people driving into trees, brick walls and off of cliffs in “accidents.” Drown by swimming out to sea? it is an accident absent affirmative proof of intent.

      The Australian government has made claims suicide was down with the new gun restrictions, yet suicide prevention advocated and researchers there are noting an equal rise in “accidents” that are known to mask suicide.

      It is very clear that access to a gun at home changes the modality of suicide. The claims it changes the net suicide by all means rate is utterly bogus.


      • Murthy’s stance, I can understand; he’s a mindless dutiful progressive Obama clone, but what’s so difficult for Olga Khazan to understand?

        Instead of asking why so many people have been allowed to become so detached and disenfranchised from their own government, or even challenge those in government for allowing it to happen, myopic slope-headed libtards always seem to blame the banana peel when someone slips on the sidewalk.

        • Fixating on the means instead of the causes of suicide proves that many anti-gunners are amoral opportunists who could give a flip about people in real mental anguish. And to make this repugnant and facile argument for what? Sour grapes about failing to ram through an under-qualified political apparatchik? Remember the anti-gun party can appoint their people on a simple, party line majority vote in the Senate now. It shows how awful Murthy was, the Dems couldn’t even get their own party to vote for the guy. Well if the enemy is busy defeating himself leave him alone…

      • That is an extremely excellent point. It is so perfectly logical that it is bound to be ignored by the media, but it makes absolute sense.

        • Thanks. You an see this CDC ranking of suicide by method. Is it just a coincidence that the ranking by method is also obviously the relinking by probative likelihood of coroners ruling?

          I should also point out the other complete fallacy Khazan engages in: The idea that guns are especially bad because they are more effective.

          That claim is a ignorant of “suicide gesture” vs suicide attempt. Suicide gestures are NOT intended to be successful.

          The anti gun rights people say that: “half the people standing on a bridge threatening to jump don’t whereas gun attempts are over 95% successful. Therefore guns are worse.”

          With that the anti gun rights people are ignorantly or willfully making a bogus argument as well. If someone wants attention through a suicide gesture, they are not going commit a felony. If they have no intent to harm themselves, if stand on a bridge they are going to lots of attention, and a downside of mandated psychiatric treatment. If they hold a gun and call authorities, they are going to go to prison, or perhaps shot by the cops. People engaging in gestures choose methods that don’t get them killed.

          One other point:

          New gun buyers have a elevated rate of overall suicide. Now that is true. What is that about? That is simply some small fraction of a percent of gun buyers who intend suicide and buy the gun for that purpose. It does not mean the presence of a gun is an increased risk of suicide, it means some people buy there guns, or ropes, or heroin to commit suicide, but we track gun purchases, and not rope or illegal drug purchases.

          This was actually a funding proposal for a study I saw, and one of the things that would use tax payer money into the CDC that would promulgate factual –but inherently false — peer reviewed study “showing” buying a gun increases risk of suicide. when that is a fraction of gun buyers ALREADY intent on suicide and not an actual elevated risk.

    • I figured out why they fixate on the gun or a magazine rather than the mental health issue. They don’t actually want to be seen “taking action” but they aren’t actually willing to make any true commitment or sustained effort. For example, rallying a bunch of emotional people to ban 30 round magazines after a school shooting requires only a small commitment and a short burst of effort. They can tell themselves and others that they “did something” and don’t have to feel guilty about the fact they aren’t willing to commit to anything other than paying lip service to mental health issues. A mental healthcare system that the parents of these crazy adolescents could go to and get help would be a forever-length commitment, a big effort.

      • Right on, man.

        I just put this to bed IRL this week with a bunch of my hysterical (Lib) horse woman facebook friends this week. There is a big horse rescue going on in the neighborhood and all these women want to do is emote about it on FB and commiserate with each other about the evil animal abuser.

        However two years ago when I tried to get this same crew to help me get the Humane Care law in IL strengthened to add measures and specific standards to the law, as well as provide for step wise and non-nebulous penalties/remedies – I heard crickets from them.

        The message is clear as a bell: Hysterical emoting on Facebook qualifies in their mind as doing something while actually doing something is way too much effort.

    • Some suicides are a mental health issue. Others are people who calmly and rationally made a decision that you simply disagree with.

      A guy killing himself because his girlfriend dumped him has mental issues. A person with a terminal illness killing themselves is making a choice to shorten their suffering.

    • Based on events in CT and elsewhere, I think the confiscation ship has sailed. No one cares what laws they pass – a majority of gun owners won’t comply.

      We’ve learned from the NFA, the GCA and the various other unconstitutional (regardless of the opinion of the judiciary) measures we are saddled with because people didn’t refuse to comply when they should have – at the start of this nonsense.

      My mom (who leans left) and I were discussing the ammo shortage and she offered the opinion that people were stockpiling because they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to buy more. My response was that they are probably stockpiling in case there is a need to use it.

  2. I appreciate the information, but really, it’s just Tuesday. Every day for the rest of our lives is going to bring potential attacks on our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Keep the information flowing to us and we’ll keep doing what we do.

  3. Reading just the headline makes me wonder if rope is a healthcare issue from hanging suicides? How about razor blades or knives?

      • There are more suicides per-capita in gun controlled Japan. Over there, stepping in front of speeding trains is a health care issue.

        • Train control! Slow those trains down! If they limit the trains to 10 mph, the conductor will have time to hit the brakes and avoid messy clean-ups.

        • “Removing all firearms from one’s home is one of the most effective and straightforward steps that household decision-makers can take to reduce the risk of suicide BY FIREARM

          There, fixed the quote for him. Suicide rates are completely unaffected by firearms access. Only the method of suicide changes. People who want to end it will end it. On the same thread are all of those statements and “statistics” about reducing firearms = reducing firearms crime. Yeah. Duh? Like, if firearms had never been invented I think we can safely assume that there would be no “gun crime” or “gun violence.” But, like we see in many of these gun-free utopias, the violent crime rate is significantly higher. We can look to countries like the UK to see that violent crime spiked and has been increasing ever since they banned firearms whereas in the U.S. it has been decreasing as our firearms ownership has gone up and up. But it’s not about crime. It’s about gun crime. So it’s still a “win” for them. Seeing gun crime go down is worth seeing total crime skyrocket.

          Anyone who talks about “gun violence/crime/death” is IMMEDIATELY identifying themselves as having a specific hatred of guns and not actually caring about violence/crime/death. If those were the real problems they would seek solutions that lowered ALL violent crime and murder, etc. But they aren’t interested. They only care about gun crime so they can ban guns. Just like they only care about suicide by gun, rather than suicide, and therefore want to regulate guns instead of trying to prevent suicides.

        • Sorry, this is a reply to one of the lower comments I can’t reply directly to. Re: “. Suicide rates are completely unaffected by firearms access.” That statement is demonstrably false. Try or just google correlation between suicide and firearm ownership. Remember, correlation != causation, but that correlation means something. Guns don’t cause suicide, but they can serve as a catalyst.

  4. So tall buildings and bridges are health hazards as well? Rope? Water? The list is endless.

    • “Removing all firearms, knives, forks, cleaning agents, shoestrings, aspirin, freedom, etc by government intervention from one’s home is one of the most effective and straightforward steps that household decision-makers can take to reduce the risk of suicide”

      Fixed it for you.

    • I’m just dumbfounded. How is this being blown so widely out of proportion? Heights a health concern? Water a health concern? Bridges? Yes, in fact, they are. People aren’t going to be talking to their doctor about the danger of heights or building and bridge design, but they’re regulated in building codes because bridges and elevated pedestrian spaces are inherently more dangerous!

      • They are not more inherently dangerous, nor is a block of steel shaped into a gun more inherently dangerous than a block of raw steel.

  5. The headlines you’ll never see:



    Doctors kill over 2400% more Americans than all gun-related deaths combined in America.

    • No kidding — do you know how many people die of MEDICAL ERRORS each year? Doctors are dangerous to be around, and hospitals are even worse!

      • Yep. About 98,000 / year. Docs in Florida have to take a course on medical error prevention every 2 years (for license renewal).

    • Haha, that’s funny. I guess you just don’t read all that much. Try looking into prescription pill farms in Florida or influence of drug companies on what doctor’s prescribe. Those are both public health issues and they’ve been reported on. The former extensively.

  6. Oh wow! See with all my years of schooling, master’s degree, and counseling licenses….I had always believed that major mental health concerns triggered suicide. I never knew that gun possession solely caused suicide.

    In that case, I guess we should all be dea

  7. You know, if you kill yourself, you can’t make it to the range any more. And if you’re dead, then you’re not shopping for the next firearm on your wish list. And you can’t get to that outdoor range you heard about. The whole death thing seems… limiting.

    • How many doctors have been prosecuted for murder when one of their patients ODs on oxy (contin/codone)?

    • Good point. A (good) doctor can actually make an informed decision about what drugs to prescribe given his patients mental health status or history because he presumably has access to that information. That’s analogous to what this man is advocating here. Access to information.

  8. Guns are far more likely to be used in suicides than in killing assailants.

    Which proves how law abiding almost all defensive gun uses are.

    The purpose of a defense gun use is to STOP the attacker, not KILL the attacker. Even discharging the weapon is rare, actually being force to kill the attacker to make the attack stop is exceedingly rare.

    Seriously, if there were 40,000 justifiable homicides per year, then the anti-gun people would be complaining it is too easy to shoot someone and not be charged.

    • Hey, guys, justifiable homicide is a legal term, one of the possible outcomes of a jury trial. The numbers used in the article are the number of people acquitted of charges because the killing was justified. Which is probably less than .01% of the number in which the police declined to charge and the DA declined to prosecute. IOW, as usual, the numbers and chart are jiggered, nonsensical lies.

  9. “But calling the method of suicide a “health care issue” is like calling the alphabet a hate speech problem.”

    Mr. Farago, if you wrote this line, BRILLIANT, and kudos. If you did not write it, it’s still brilliant.

    • Except knowing the alphabet isn’t correlated with hate speech. Actually, it’s probably negatively correlated with hate speech, but that’s speculation on my part. Having a gun is positively correlated with suicide, though. Brilliant? No, I don’t think so. Ignorant? A little.

  10. I think any state that permits assisted suicide, or provides inadequate mental health services, should not be allowed to use suicide in tabulating gun deaths.

  11. I thought guns were already inanimate. How can they commit “gun suicide?” Maybe it’s time for tasteless bumper stickers – “Guns don’t commit suicide. People commit suicide.”

  12. The media happily ignores Murthy’s lack of experience and qualification. But why mention something as trivial as his lack of medical experience when it’s so much easier to label him another victim of the NRA.

  13. Suicides make mental health a healthcare issue. Rope and electrical cords aren’t healthcare issues.

  14. So… let’s “prevent” 19,000 suicides by preventing at least 100,000 people from being able to protect themselves from lethal force by an attacker. Makes sense!

    Then, how will we prevent the *other* 19,000 suicides that weren’t committed using firearms?

  15. Okay, so what’s up with that “justifiable homicides” stat the anti-gunners love to trot out? It’s such a tiny number… hell, I’m pretty sure the NRA’s “Armed Citizen” column categorizes more gunfights and DGUs.

    And so do, for that matter, the DOJ (under both Obama and Clinton), Kleck, etc. Anybody have some idea of what’s up?

    • The grabbers are trying to make the mental association between murder and justifiable homicide.

      That is, they are trying to say that bad shootings are now being ruled as good shootings due to such things as Stand Your Ground laws and more liberal carry laws.

      MDA, for example, claims justifiable homicides have increased since SYG passed in FL. Problem is that it’s an interpretation fail. Before SYG, proper SD cases were wrongfully prosecuted (not according to MDA types), which bends the numbers.

      It’s all PR manipulation.

      • No, no, I get all of that.

        What I was meaning to talk about was how the “justifiable homicide” stat is trotted out any time the anti-gun crowd wants to make a point about the utility versus cost of guns in society, like the graph at the top of the post.

        But why isn’t that number higher? I get that most DGUs don’t wind up with dead people, but even for those that DO, the “justifiable homicide” number seems way too low– out of line with other national studies. Maybe most DGUs that have a body count are ruled something other than “justifiable homicide”…?

        • Oooops. Okay, I did misunderstand your question.

          John Lott has said that only about fewer than one out of one thousand DGU’s result in a dead attacker, and combined woundings + death are at or a bit below 1%.

          So, the number IS small.

          If we use the 100,000 / year DGU number (thrown out by the grabbers) as a lower estimate (rather than the 2.5 million number obtained by indirect studies), 0.1% amounts to 100 DGU related deaths.

          Source for Lott reference:

          Page 11, but the whole thing is worth the read (or listen to the podcast).

          Gotta say, though, I don’t specifically know where they get their “justifiable homicide” numbers…if there has been any filtering done by them to rule out DGU’s that THEY don’t justify or whatever.

    • Yes, sir, I posted it above but since you asked I’ll post it again. The “Justifiable Homicide” numbers come from the outcome of jury trials for murder in which the jury finds the homicide was justifiable for whatever reason. Of the cases in “Armed Citizen”, none even went to trial, like thousands and tens of thousands of others, either the police declined to charge or the DA declined to prosecute because they knew that “Justifiable Homicide” would be the only result. IOW, you were correct the first time, those numbers are deliberate lies.

  16. Life is a health risk and has a 100% death rate! Just thought I’d throw that in there. Meanwhile I’m putting all my guns on a strict diet.
    Don’t moderate me bro!

  17. They can’t/won’t do confiscation just yet. That is not where gun control is headed in the near term. They want to make it expensive and difficult. Because of recent court cases they can’t make it TOO expensive, or TOO difficult. They are testing the waters to see just how much they can actually TAX it; but that’s not enough.

    My theory on the direction of gun control as follows:
    Because of Obamacare in 10-20 years most private healthcare in the sense we know it will not exist.
    The cost of healthcare to those who are not low income or federally subsidized will be too much for the average person to afford. Therefor we will all receive “Free” Government healthcare. As a condition of the universal, in theory optional but in practice mandatory healthcare certain activities will mean you pay a lot more for your healthcare. Afterall; the Government is now paying to take care of you so they have a RIGHT to tell you what you can and can’t do.
    I envision that besides smoking the most expensive “behavioral” cost added to an individuals healthcare will be firearms ownership. If your doctor finds out you own firearms (many are now asking this question; it is going into E health records and will be available forever) then it will be DEMANDED you either give up your guns or you pay more. Failure to do so will result in huge fines and a suspension of all healthcare.

    Moreover; other methods will be used to collect data on who owns firearms. Children will increasingly be asked about guns in the home, as will employers, especially Government employers.

    The future is really looking 1984 guys…stay frosty.

    • Your grasp of what’s involved AHCA is so distorted that it’s going to be difficult to respond to you. There is no public option. The government isn’t paying for our healthcare and there’s nothing in the AHCA that goes beyond Medicare. The entire point of the registry and getting enough people to join is so money paid to private insurers by people with lower risk subsidizes the premiums of those at high risk. That’s how insurance works and ObamaCare is forcing people to get (private) insurance so the insurance markets work better. The perceived increase in cost caused by the law is because the shittier cheaper plans don’t meet minimum standards. This has nothing to do with an increase in the cost of healthcare. It was completely disingenuous of Obama to say ‘if you like your plan, you can keep it’ and the argument that people should have the freedom not to get insurance is a great argument against ObamaCare. Hate it all you want, but it has nothing to do with this article.

  18. Doctors For America started as an ObamaCare sockpuppet group. Murthy was simply getting his Chicago Thugz Crew payoff as his actual medical creds contained no practice with patients or much business experience. Which might come in handy as Surgeon General…but of course the Atlantic can’t report on THAT little inconvenient truth as it might not fit the Narrative and besides might be a bit much to analyze fof the “I’m so smart just look at whats on my coffee table east coast wannabe cool kids club”.

  19. That’s why you build a relationship with your doctor John S., I don’t see people not affording healthcare within the next 10- 20 years, I see it in the next 30. If a doctor won’t treat you because if politics or an insurer won’t insure you, then find someone else that will.

  20. “A certain section of medical opinion, in late years, has succumbed to the messianic delusion. Its spokesmen are not content to deal with the patients who come to them for advice; they conceive it to be their duty to force their advice upon everyone, including especially those who don’t want it. That duty is purely imaginary. It is born of vanity, not of public spirit. The impulse behind it is not altruism, but a mere yearning to run things.”
    –H.L. Mencken

    Saw this quote in an article on Thought it summed up this kind of thing pretty well.

  21. To Murphy and Khazan your life belongs to the state and suicide is “Willful destruction of state property”.

  22. The main problem with suicide is that people who shouldn’t be killing themselves (teenagers, clinically depressed folks, etc.) usually find a way regardless of whether it’s with a gun or not…

    …while the people that SHOULD be committing suicide for the harm they do to society (child molesters, rapists, 3rd world dictators, various members of Congress, etc) never do it. Too bad.

  23. Because if you take away the guns, someone wanting to harm themselves can’t possibly find a knife, a rope, a tall building, a toaster and bathtub, or any other means of ending their lives…yea, must be those guns!

  24. Call me a cold heartless bastard, but I don’t care how many people kill themselves – or by what means.

    Your life is yours to live on your own terms, and yours to end on your own terms. The ultimate expression of statist control over your life is insisting that you must live – even if you no longer desire to continue living.

    I refuse to give up my rights for stupid reasons. People killing themselves is a stupid reason.

    • Look, you don’t have to give a damn about people killing themselves with or without guns, but this man is being demonized for a complete misrepresentation of his beliefs. Removing guns from homes won’t eliminate suicides, but even the article here concedes it’s a good idea for some people. He advocates doctors talking to their patients about gun ownership because it’s a good idea that might save lives. That’s kind of doctors’ collective jam. Guns don’t cause suicide but they’re definitely catalysts. How is there a de facto registry given doctor patient confidentiality? Your doctor wont give a damn if you have 1 or 12 guns because easy access to 12 doesn’t make it significantly easier to kill yourself then access to one. You know what happens when a doctor asks a patient if he or she owns a gun and the patient doesn’t want to answer? I’m betting the patient wouldn’t answer. Might even lie. Who gives a shit? He’s suggesting there would be a benefit in doctors trying to discuss this. How is this controversial? I’m clearly missing something.

  25. Someday someone will have to provide a cogent argument as to why I should give a shit about gun suicides, or suicides in general.

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