Some Pie Charts on Gun Deaths

I had a post ready to go full of levity and self-mockery of my brief stint in online dating, but it’s 5:07 AM and I can’t sleep because I’m frustrated at how callous we’ve become about gun violence. I think about how selfish people are, valuing their ‘right to bear arms’ over the lives of their fellow citizens – KIDS, FOR THE LOVE – and I feel this overwhelming vexation because even if they can’t see beyond their own whims to preserve the lives of others, surely they can see how gun deaths impact their own lives as gun owners, right? To that end, I have a few pie charts.

It’s a pie blog. There have to be pie charts, and I’m not sorry about that in the slightest. They’re also not the prettiest things ever, but it’s 5 in the morning and I haven’t slept.

First, a relatively simple chart (source: FBI) depicting total homicides, divided by gun-related and not gun-related.

 

So what does this pie chart mean? It means all the bullshit “Oh, let’s ban knives and cars while we’re at it!” rhetoric can just stop. Guns KILL PEOPLE. Cars drive you places, and knives cut bales of hay and cheese and cool ass paper art, but guns exist for one purpose, and sadly they do it all too well. When guns kill more than double the number of people that knives, cars, bare-handed strangling, shoving people into trains, poisoning, drowning, and whatever other methods do, maybe the time to think about knife safety shouldn’t supersede thinking about how to reduce gun violence and increase gun safety. Which brings me to Pie Chart #2 (source: CDC):

These borders I didn’t crop out are driving me fucking insane, but I’m so frustrated and tired that I have no shits to give. According to the CDC, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. More than half of these deaths are caused by people shooting themselves. This article articulates why guns in particular are so problematic, but the gist of it is this: guns do irreversible damage that no amount of reconsideration or reflection or regret can undo if fired upon oneself.

Though guns are not the most common method by which people attempt suicide, they are the most lethal. About 85 percent of suicide attempts with a firearm end in death. (Drug overdose, the most widely used method in suicide attempts, is fatal in less than 3 percent of cases.) Moreover, guns are an irreversible solution to what is often a passing crisis. Suicidal individuals who take pills or inhale car exhaust or use razors have time to reconsider their actions or summon help. With a firearm, once the trigger is pulled, there’s no turning back.

So which group is most affected by gun-deaths? It turns out it’s gun owners themselves.
“But Jenny! Guns save lives too! They PROTECT! They protect LOTS!” OK yeah, I have a pie chart for that too (source: CDC). And it has borders.

Huh, look at that. Justifiable homicide accounts for only 2% of gun-related deaths, with suicide at 61% and suicide and homicide together at 95%. There are more people accidentally killing each other than justifiably. Kids shooting their siblings and horrifying accidents like that outnumber how many people are ‘justifiably’ killed. I’m sure gun enthusiasts will moo and howl about how many threats to their safety are deterred and unaccounted for, but how many accidental deaths and suicides and school shootings make that deterrent worth it?
Come on, gun nuts. Get it together. We want your guns to stop killing babies and fellow students and women and  innocent people, but we also want your guns to stop killing YOU. Here, read some fucking articles. I’m going to bed.

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13 thoughts on “Some Pie Charts on Gun Deaths

  1. Really Guns kill people ? Which gun got up, drove the car to the school and shot people?

    Guns KILL PEOPLE. Cars drive you places, and knives cut bales of hay and cheese and cool ass paper art, but guns exist for one purpose, and sadly they do it all too well.

    Cars drive themselves? Wait a minute

    Motor vehicle traffic deaths

    Number of deaths: 33,687
    Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.9
    

    All firearm deaths

    Number of deaths: 31,672
    Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.3
    

    According to the CDC; more people are killed by ‘cars’ than by ‘firearms’ — aren’t you seeking to restrict the wrong thing if something that has multiple purposes are used in deaths more than a single purpose item?

    We want your guns to stop killing babies and fellow students and women and innocent people, but we also want your guns to stop killing YOU.

    My guns haven’t killed anyone. Not a baby, not a fellow student, not any woman, not a single person. Nor has my gun killed myself.

    I’m sure gun enthusiasts will moo and howl about how many threats to their safety are deterred and unaccounted for,

    I don’t have to moo or howl about how many threats are deterred and unaccounted for; we know how many. The Kleck and Gertz survey (supported by 16 other surveys) found up to 2,500,000 Defensive Gun Uses per Year.

    That is a crime stopped or prevented by the presence of a firearm. I guess I’m a little selfish because I really only care about one!
    The one that I stop or my wife or daughter stops and keeps them alive, unraped, unassaulted, etc.

    You rage about gun owners as if every one of the 55,000,000 are responsible for the actions of the 28,000 murderers (assuming everyone was a different person — which we know is not true) and suicides.
    Think about that — 0.05% of a group murdered someone or committed suicide and you want to take action against 99.95%.

    Why not focus on the root causes; mental illness in the case of the latest mass murder (although more people in that case were killed with a knife than a firearm); or the cause of crime; poverty, education, unemployment, absentee fathers, neglectful mothers, etc.

    Bob S.
    3 Boxes of BS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Bob!

      First, cars are an excellent point, in that cars and their safety features are becoming increasingly more regulated, and deaths arising from cars are dropping, whereas deaths arising from being shot dead are rising. Maybe this is due to the increase in regulations, and maybe it’s due to a sociological/behavioral shift in better driving behavior, but whatever it is, the end result is fewer deaths by cars. Why is an analogous result undesirable with firearms? Why are we citing surveys of subjective people from 20 years ago instead of raw numbers and trends of an increasing number of people accidentally and purposefully dying? Why is it so hard to acknowledge those deaths and so easy to brush them off as casualties?

      Second, on the subject of violence towards women, this subject is a lot like #YesAllWoman. Yes, I know there are law-abiding and responsible gun-toting citizens. Yes, I know that not all gun owners have killed or harmed anyone. But there is a “DON’T TOUCH MY GUNS!” culture that makes it very easy for people suffering from those root causes you mentioned to get a gun and use it detrimentally, just like there’s a sexist and misogynistic culture that tells you that someone attacking your wife or daughter is sadly a real threat. Not acknowledging that there is a problem effectively silences and denies the experiences of all those grieving parents who’ve lost their children to a bullet.

      So yeah, my rage about gun owners is directed at all of you, just like my rage about #YesAllWomen is directed at all parties who think it doesn’t exist, or don’t think it’s a problem, or think it’s the responsibility of the aggrieved party to just deal with it. I’m angry because the most common reaction is too often avoiding having a discourse about it before dismissing the idea of control altogether. As for why not focusing on root causes? Because it’s my blog and my blogspace and my anger and my post. I follow quite a few bloggers and tweeters who are passionate about rectifying social structures leading to inequality and poverty, and the lack of education caused by them, but they speak on it more eloquently than I do. So I stick to what I like, which is pie. And pie charts.

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      • “We want your guns to stop killing babies and fellow students and women and innocent people…” Yet you probably are pro-choice. Hypocrisy, a innate trait of the Liberal. Fact is, since 1993, gun ownership has been on the rise and gun related homicides gone down 49%. Furthermore, Justifiable shootings are skewed. You can defend yourself with a gun and not actually use it (as in most self-defense cases).

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        • I mean. If you’re going to dredge up a post from well over a year ago, at least get your numbers right.

          You’re right in that it’s fallen, but a few things to consider:
          1) that 49% also accounts for population increase. That’s like saying, “The rate of gun murder has gone down because there are more targets to shoot at.” If you look at actual raw numbers, it’s a 39% drop.
          2) Knife/blunt object/poison/defenestration/explosion/fists-hands-feet homicides fell by a raw 44%. Taken in combination with the drop in gun murders, all this probably means that on the whole, the US is less murderous than it was 20 years ago. Except for the part that murder rates are going up metropolitan areas.
          3) Guns still account for 70% of all murders.

          This doesn’t even touch the gun-related injuries, or, as you say, situations where an issue has been defused because someone possessed a self-defense gun. It also doesn’t touch the gun culture that promotes situations where someone feels like they have the right to intimidate someone else simply because they have a gun.

          Really, I don’t even know why I’m replying. I think I’m waiting for the day when I meet that magical pro-gun unicorn who’s able to have a wholistic discussion with me about this without burying their head in whatever statistics the NRA is waving around.

          Someone who will tell me about gun clubs, and whether heavily taxing ammunition unless purchased through well-run gun clubs to members in good standing will work.

          I’m guessing that given the whole “NEEEEEEEERRR, LIBERAL SCUM” thing, you aren’t that person. sigh

          One day, magical gun-nut unicorn.

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  2. Cars are subject to regulations and improvements in safety because they need those regulations to function properly. Firearms on the other hand are not malfunctioning like ignition switches that don’t work right or brakes that suddenly stop working.
    No one has figured out a way to stop a person — note that key word — a person from deliberately and criminally using a car to injure someone. In Dallas Texas last year we had dozens of people get drunk in public (against the law), drive drunk (against the law), go the wrong way on the free way (against the law) and slam into another vehicle killing themselves and/or others (against the law). None of the safety features stopped the person.

    Why are we citing surveys of subjective people from 20 years ago instead of raw numbers and trends of an increasing number of people accidentally and purposefully dying?

    One reason is simply because people do not acknowledge the positive uses of firearms. Time and time again they completely ignore the lives saved, the rapes prevented.

    Don’t like decades old –but still relevant information — try this numbers
    With 15 incidents stopped by police with a total of 217 dead that’s an average of about 14.29. With 17 incidents stopped by civilians and 45 dead that’s an average of 2.33.
    http://dailyanarchist.com/2012/07/31/auditing-shooting-rampage-statistics/

    Why is it so hard to acknowledge those deaths and so easy to brush them off as casualties?

    I’m not brushing them off. Quite the contrary, I look at the lives lost and thank the Lord my family isn’t among them. I have a niece and her family in California. I could easily imagine that they were the victims. But why is it so easy to brush off the ineffectiveness of the gun control laws in place already in California? Background Checks, assault rifle ban, 10 round magazines, and on and on. None of them were effective in stopping the murders. Not this one, not the day in and day out criminal murders.
    The National Institute of Justice under Barack Obama (http://www.nraila.org/media/10883516/nij-gun-policy-memo.pdf — PDF alert) points out that most gun control laws would ineffective without draconian restrictions.

    This is supported by a CDC Study showing insufficient evidence that any gun control law or combination of laws reduced violent outcomes. So why push for more things that don’t work?

    To make more disarmed victims?

    I’m angry because the most common reaction is too often avoiding having a discourse about it before dismissing the idea of control altogether

    When something doesn’t work, why keep trying the same thing over and over again — isn’t that the definition of insanity — expecting a different result this time?

    We both want the same thing – a reduction in violence. I simply choose to focus on things that might help us get that instead of just making us feel good by thinking we did something.

    Bob S.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can link to studies too. Also, this. You’re absolutely right about cars but also not. What about required insurance and required driver’s ed and maintaining driver’s licenses and policing of aggressive driving, which having nothing to do with the function of the car and everything to do with ensuring safe and responsible usage? Why is there no talk of liability insurance for guns, or required training, or policing of weapons in people who are at risk? Elliott Rodgers was detained by police 3 times but nothing in their code told them to check him for weapons.

      Gun restriction laws are working in other countries and other states so I don’t really understand the speculation that it won’t work. The study I mentioned above even states that they haven’t pinpointed exactly which laws are most effective, but it definitely doesn’t say that they’re ineffective. Quite the opposite. Moreover, where is this fear that YOUR guns, as a responsible owner, will be taken away coming from? Wouldn’t gun restrictions make it so that you, Bob Responsible Gun Owner, would hold on to your guns and Joe, Domestic Assaulter and Overall Miscreant, would not?

      I’m pretty sure that’s going to work out to a rhetorical question, as I am pretty fixed in my mindset and you are in yours. I do appreciate the civil discussion though.

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  3. I guess it’s all about the perspective and I respect everyone’s view’s on to arm or not to arm yourselves for whatever reason. However, I just want to take a little time to use the data you presented at a different angle. First, let’s take the suicides out of the picture here since it’s implying that the gun is killing the person which contradicts the term “suicide”, from the Latin ‘suicidium’, “To kill oneself”. “A gun is much more “lethal” than any other method?” Of course, that’s the point, right? Why would they go through the pain of jumping off a bridge, risking severely hurting themselves when they just want to end their life? I know I’m insensitive to say this, but I’m just trying to make a point. The suicide victims will kill themselves whether they had a gun or not. It’s just another means to the end.

    Second, you mock the fact that guns can protect. Home invasions and burglaries are very real. If you don’t think it can happen in your neighborhood, you are living in a bubble. See http://patriotcrimedefense.com/fbi-statistics. More details on those stats on the FBI site, http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/crimestats. If someone breaks into my house and threatens my family, as a law abiding citizen, I want to have the option to reach for my gun and neutralize that threat and protect my family. I don’t want me or my family to be helpless victims to assault, rape or even murder if there was another option. Gun control nuts are trying to take that option away, and essentially victimizing the innocent.

    Most importantly to remember, the bad guys are always going to have access to guns, legal or not. Gun control makes it hard for the law biding citizens to access them, which allows them no protection against those bad guys.Your last chart shows homicide deaths are 34% while Justified Deaths are 2%. If more people are willing and able to protect themselves, I’ll bet you that 2% will go up and the 34% will go down. More restrictions on gun control and that 2% will go down to 0.

    Again, I respect your right not to bear arms, but I ask that you don’t take that right away from someone else who wants to be proactive about protecting their own.

    PS – I never respond to these kinds of posts, but since we are friends and you wrote this, just wanted to express a different perspective. I know I live in the wrong state to bear these views. Haha. HUGS!
    T

    Like

    • Why would they go through the pain of jumping off a bridge, risking severely hurting themselves when they just want to end their life? I know I’m insensitive to say this, but I’m just trying to make a point. The suicide victims will kill themselves whether they had a gun or not. It’s just another means to the end.
      You’ve missed the point that suicides are largely impulsive. For the person who’s determined, yeah, he’ll find a way to kill himself one way or another. But the people who attempt it because they’ve reached a low point and are subsequently talked off the ledge, or have their stomach pumped, or change their mind, how would you suggest they change their mind about their head being blown open? For each person who commits suicide, 100-200 attempt it. So no, I don’t think suicides can be removed from consideration.

      If you don’t think it can happen in your neighborhood, you are living in a bubble.
      That’s why I have a bat by my bed. Will a bat stop a gun? No, it won’t. But that’s why I choose to live in a county within a state with strict laws and few gun homicides. Also for the plethora of pho restaurants and easy access to Honey Pig.

      Again, I respect your right not to bear arms, but I ask that you don’t take that right away from someone else who wants to be proactive about protecting their own.
      You too?? I don’t understand where this assumption is coming from. Wouldn’t gun restrictions ensure that you, T. Law Abiding Non-Violent Citizen, get to keep your gun and people convicted of some crime or charged with domestic assault or whatever don’t? If the police in California had had a code to check Elliott Rodgers for weapons when he was questioned three times, they’d have found a gun. They’d have been able to identify him as a risk and addressed it there. There’s also the overarching issue that California has almost no cultural homogeneity, so their gun laws HAVE to be more defined (as opposed to say, Maine, where the gun laws aren’t all that strict but everybody’s kind of on the same page in that lobsters are good and racism and death are bad). I’m not so idealistic to assume that we’d go straight to a categorical gun ban that other developed countries have adopted.

      You’re right in that I don’t know how difficult it is to be a gun-owner and have the government restrict what I can or can’t do with something that I choose to own. If we suddenly decided that baseball bats were lethal and must be kept in a locked bat closet and I had to register my bat yearly, I’d be pretty annoyed I’m sure, but the extra work and cost I’d have to put in to owning it would be worth it if it meant that some batshit violent asshole (see what I did there?) wouldn’t be running loose with one.

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  4. A higher number of firearm laws in a state are associated with a lower rate of firearm fatalities in the state, overall and for suicides and homicides individually. As our study could not determine cause-and-effect relationships, further studies are necessary to define the nature of this association.

    And in states with fewer swimming pools there are fewer deaths by accidental drownings in swimming pools. Many states make it very difficult to own and carry a firearm; California for example. So yes, there would be fewer firearm related deaths.

    http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/murder-rates-nationally-and-state#MRord

    In this table, you can see Hawaii (very restrictive laws, an Island) actually has a higher homicide rate than Vermont which allows Constitutional Carry no permit needed, Open or Concealed, no owners permit, etc.
    So does Vermont need more restrictive laws? Probably not, wouldn’t you say?

    What about required insurance and required driver’s ed and maintaining driver’s licenses and policing of aggressive driving, which having nothing to do with the function of the car and everything to do with ensuring safe and responsible usage?

    I’m against the state/federal government requiring those.

    Using an instrumental variables approach, we find evidence that automobile insurance has moral hazard costs, leading to an increase in traffic fatalities. We also find that reductions in accident liability produced by no-fault liability laws have led to an increase in traffic fatalities (estimated to be on the order of 6 percent).

    Before we recommend something; shouldn’t we find out if it actually does what it is supposed to do?
    The other aspect of autos versus cars is the difference in “accidents”. Firearm related accidents are an incredibly small number by comparison to vehicles. It isnt’ the accidents that are the problem but the deliberate criminal use of firearms. How are you going to make a criminal carry insurance? Proof of training, etc?

    Why is there no talk of liability insurance for guns, or required training, or policing of weapons in people who are at risk?

    Perhaps because restrictions on fundamental human rights should be as few as possible, narrowly tailored to achieve the government’s needs.
    8,853 firearm related homicides is the number you cite — even if we assume (as shown in California we know not true) each homicide was committed by a separate person and we round down on the number of gun owners (let’s say 50 Mil) — that means 0.0172% of all gun owners committed murder in 2011. Hardly requiring 99.98% of gun owners to carry insurance, get training etc would be ‘narrowly tailored’, right?

    Gun restriction laws are working in other countries and other states so I don’t really understand the speculation that it won’t work.

    How are those restrictions working out for Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica, Belize,Brazil? Not well. There are many other factors besides restrictive laws that determine how lethal a country is.
    Let’s focus on those factors; education, poverty, employment, etc and see if we can’t get the homicide rate down without restricting people’s rights.

    Wouldn’t gun restrictions make it so that you, Bob Responsible Gun Owner, would hold on to your guns and Joe, Domestic Assaulter and Overall Miscreant, would not?

    No because most gun control advocates aren’t after just the criminals — Look at the New York State “Safe Act” — made illegal any magazine over 7 rounds. Made illegal rifles with certain cosmetic features. Not just the ones used by criminals but everyone. Now who would be likely to turn in their firearms; people like me or the criminals?

    Nope gun control laws aren’t focused on the criminals — name a restriction that would affect a criminal more than the law abiding please?

    Bob S.

    Like

    • Hawaii has the lowest gun-related homicide rate; Vermont actually ranks much higher in terms of gun-related homicides.

      Comparing the US to countries that are wildly different culturally is disingenuous. Why are Canada, the UK, Australia, and Japan not the countries to compare to? And on the subject of those countries, I agree that culture and education and social well-being play a huge part. The whole reason Hawaii, Iowa, and Maine are so low in gun deaths isn’t just because of laws, it’s also because of state culture and personality. Where I don’t agree with you, and I think my argument ends here, is that I think the solution to gun violence does not lie in the complete and categorical rejection of gun control when gun control and tackling social problems can be done concurrently. 7 of the 10 states with the strictest gun laws rank lowest for gun deaths and are also among the most progressive. Frankly, I’m curious to know how many gun owners are willing to tackle the issue of poverty and unemployment on more than a rhetorical scale.

      Nope gun control laws aren’t focused on the criminals — name a restriction that would affect a criminal more than the law abiding please?
      Removing guns from domestic abusers.
      “A survey of domestic abusers enrolled in Massachusetts batterer intervention programs between 2002 and 2005 found that perpetrators who continued to possess firearms after they were prohibited from doing so by federal law were more likely to attempt homicide or threaten their partners with guns than domestic violence perpetrators who had relinquished their firearms.”th
      Clearly there are criminals who have given up their firearms in order for this to be true. Just because a domestic abuser mightbe less likely to turn his gun in doesn’t mean the law is ineffective, and unless you yourself are an abuser, your own gun would be left alone.

      Like

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