Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Draw What Conclusions You Will From Our Gun Death Rate

Posted By on Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 12:00 PM

Another mass shooting, another chapter of our polarized arguments about guns and gun violence. Or maybe since the number of high profile killings is growing at an alarming rate, I should say, "another page turned" rather than "another chapter."

My advocacy for what I consider to be common sense gun regulation isn't going to change any minds. So here are some numbers from today's New York Times. Draw whatever conclusions you will.

The article has a telling graph comparing the number of gun homicides per day in the U.S. and other Western countries if each of them had the same population we do. Our rate is up at about 27 per day, after which there's a large empty space which continues until you get to 4 or 5 per day. That includes Greece, Canada, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Finland. Most other countries are in the 1 or 2 per day range.
[The] level of violence makes the United States an extreme outlier when measured against the experience of other advanced countries.

Around the world, those countries have substantially lower rates of deaths from gun homicide. In Germany, being murdered with a gun is as uncommon as being killed by a falling object in the United States. About two people out of every million are killed in a gun homicide. Gun homicides are just as rare in several other European countries, including the Netherlands and Austria. In the United States, two per million is roughly the death rate for hypothermia or plane crashes.

In Poland and England, only about one out of every million people die in gun homicides each year — about as often as an American dies in an agricultural accident or falling from a ladder. In Japan, where gun homicides are even rarer, the likelihood of dying this way is about the same as an American’s chance of being killed by lightning — roughly one in 10 million.
We can take cold comfort in the gun death rates in El Salvador and Mexico, which are considerably higher than ours. But Chile's rate is less than half what ours is, and Israel's is a quarter our rate.

We have a public health issue here, seeing as how dying, especially for preventable reasons, is not good for people's health, and like other public health issues, there are ways to work on improving the situation. But today I didn't come here to preach.

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