It has been hotly debated since the Newtown shootings. Most of the debates, however, involve very little facts. That’s because there isn’t much data regarding gun deaths. Until now.
The Washington Post has run an analysis of data their reporters have collected from the Centers from Disease Control. Some of their findings seem obvious, but other shed a much broader light on just how gun deaths affect different parts of the country. The Post’s conclusion:
Gun deaths are shaped by race in America. Whites are far more likely to shoot themselves, and African Americans are far more likely to be shot by someone else.
But suicide and inner city gun violence have mostly been absent from the national gun control debate. Instead too much attention is paid to assault weapons.
Yes. Too much attention.
Assault weapons aren’t the problem. They aren’t used to commit most crimes or homicides. Banning them won’t make America any safer.
The simple solution the politicians seek is simply not there. The issues are much more complex.
Here’s more from The Post:
A white person is five times as likely to commit suicide with a gun as to be shot with a gun; for each African American who uses a gun to commit suicide, five are killed by other people with guns.
Suicides account for almost twice as many gun deaths as homicides nationwide, they tend to be quiet tragedies, unnoticed outside the hushed confines of family and friends.
When was the last time a politician mentioned that statistic? Suicide is not easy to talk about. It’s not easy to solve But it should be a more prominent part of any gun debate.
On the other side of the debate, plenty of gun rights supporters often cite John Lott’s 1998 book “More Guns Less Crime.” Even if that’s true, which research suggests otherwise, the Washington Post finds:
Where a person lives matters, too. Gun deaths in urban areas are much more likely to be homicides, while suicide is far and away the dominant form of gun death in rural areas. States with the most guns per capita, such as Montana and Wyoming, have the highest suicide rates; states with low gun ownership rates, such as Massachusetts and New York, have far fewer suicides per capita.
It’s hard to ignore that startling statistic.
The point of this isn’t to argue for more laws or for more gun control. It is just time to get real about guns. Where they are. Who uses them and for what. There isn’t going to be one simple solution to curb gun violence.
And the solutions won’t come from politicians. They’ll come from gun owners and people living in high-crime neighborhoods. The problems in Montana are different from the problems in Chicago. They should be treated as such.
These problems might ultimately be unsolvable. Suicide and murder will always exist, but what common sense approaches can be taken without involving Washington to less the impact of both?