The author quoted below, writing at Bloomberg Opinion, doesn’t mention that Daniel Webster is the Bloomberg professor of American health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Instead, Francis Wilkinson only IDs Webster in his piece as as director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University.
Surely that’s just an unfortunate oversight.
[Bloomberg School of Public Health Director Daniel] Webster cautions, however, that the research doesn’t provide comprehensive answers.
What I haven’t seen in any recent study is an examination of the role access to firearms is playing in recent suicide trends. Firearm access is a tricky thing to measure. Background checks for firearm sales soared during the Obama years, but it is believed that much of that increase involved current gun owners stocking up with more guns and ammo. There’s no evidence that going from 5 to 10 guns in your house increases your risk of suicide.
Data from the General Social Survey suggest that the prevalence of guns in households has been relatively flat over the past decade. My sense is that places where firearm ownership is relatively high have experienced increased rates of suicide, though it’s not clear that this is due to increased exposure to guns. The isolation and economic struggles, losing loved ones to the opioid epidemic makes folks vulnerable and access to firearms increased the likelihood that they will kill themselves.
Firearms now kill more Americans than automobile accidents. In December, Congress approved $25 million to study gun safety. It’s not a lot of money, given the scale of death and injury. But after years in which there was an effective ban on federal funds for gun research, it’s a start.
Because blue states and NRA states have moved in opposite directions on gun policy in recent years, the potential to draw clear distinctions about policy effects is also increasing. The CDC data is precisely the sort of information that can help make America safer — provided policies are reality-based.
– Francis Wilkinson in This Is Why the NRA Hates Gun Violence Research