- Yet another bad article, this time in Scientific American, tries to ascribe causality to guns for every single gun related death out there. I won’t even link to the article because it’s garbage. The author, as if often the case, pulls numbers from all sorts of places to fabricate a conclusion and a false narrative. It starts with this statement:”Yet gun advocates argue exactly the opposite: that murders, crimes and mass shootings happen because there aren’t enough guns in enough places. Arming more people will make our country safer and more peaceful, they say, because criminals won’t cause trouble if they know they are surrounded by gun-toting good guys.”The only “gun advocates” who promote this are the lunatics. Don’t listen to them. They do not speak for “gun-toting good guys”. I mean, this article reveals intense bias with every word and it is far from a scientific analysis of the “gun problem”. The fact that it is published on the Scientific American site only makes it worst.Here’s another interesting passage right at the start of the article:”Guns took more than 36,000 U.S. lives in 2015, and this and other alarming statistics have led many to ask whether our nation would be better off with firearms in fewer hands.”
Of course, the FIRST thing you have to do if you are honestly trying to understand the problem is to take those 36,000 incidents and parse them to reveal cause, motive and circumstances. She doesn’t do that. And for an obvious reason: Because it would destroy the conclusion she is trying to fabricate, or, at the very least, it would not allow her to reach it.
How do you do this? Well, there’s FBI data and CDC reports, that’s where I start. You can dig further but these are good starting points. Finding the CDC data is easy. See linked PDF, table 18 on page 87. There’s invaluable information on this one table (it’s for 2014).
What does it say? Deaths involving firearms: 33,594
Wow, that’s terrible. Let’s break it down:
- Unintentional: 461
- Suicide: 21,386
- Homicide: 11,008
- Undetermined: 275
- Legal (war, police): 464
Homicides are, by definition, criminal activity. Accidents are covered under “Unintentional”.
- So, 11,008 homicides. That’s bad people, criminals, crazy people or people with psychological problems (or all of the above) using guns to kill others. By definition these people will not obey laws. They don’t care about them one bit. They are criminals, terrorists, etc.
- The number that truly jumps out at you from this very basic analysis is that 21,386 people commit suicide using guns. That is massive. That’s twice the homicide rate. And the Scientific American article doesn’t say anything at all about this. It lumps all gun deaths into one big pile to be used to fabricate an argument, making them all equivalent.
I am not a mental health expert but I think I am correct when I say that someone who commits suicide –whatever the means– isn’t in good mental health. So I went looking for qualified information. I found this short article in Psychology Today, hopefully more qualified than I am:
From the article:
“In general, people do not commit suicide because they are in pain, they commit suicide because they don’t believe there is a reason to live and the world will be better off without them”
They explain that the sense of burden overwhelmingly separates those who actually committed suicide from those who attempted or threatened to do so.
I wanted to have a bit more information on the subject. I landed on this page at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
Very interesting page. It says, among other things, that four times more people, about 44,000, die due to suicide rather than homicide.
It also says that Montana has the highest suicide rate in the nation.
The obvious question, then, is, why?
And so I found this article:
It lists several reasons for which Montana has the highest suicide rate in the nation:
Social Isolation, Alcoholism, Guns, Economics, Mental Health Infrastructure, Stigma, Withdrawal.
The list is a bit weird because it includes a bunch of causes and only one method. I other words, a gun isn’t a cause of suicide, it’s a method. A gun doesn’t jump out of the holster and say “I am a gun, therefore you will commit suicide”. It’s a method, not a cause. I wonder if this reveals a bit of bias on the part of the author.
The article further clarifies guns are used in 65% of suicides in Montana. They also mention that 1/3 of the suicides have alcohol in their systems.
This, I feel, makes a reasonable full circle to the Scientific American article passing through the CDC report.
Guns don’t cause suicides, they are mainly one of the methods. The same table on the CDC report indicates that 2014 had 135,928 suicides. The report doesn’t list a full breakdown of the methods, here are some:
- Cut/pierce: 740
- Drowning: 372
- Fall: 31,959 (Wow!)
- Hot object: 180
- Fire: 180
- Firearms: 21,386 (also significant)
- Transport: 177
- Poisoning: 6,808
- Suffocation: 11,407
- This adds-up to about 60,000. I don’t have the time to chase after the missing 60K or so in the breakdown but it is clear it isn’t due to guns. That over 31,000 people jump off buildings/bridges a year was a surprise to me.
Going back to Scientific American and their horrible article, it is clear that the problem with this really bad article is that they are trying to take what is a mental health problem and turn it into a gun problem. Guns are a convenient method should they be around but it is interesting to note that far more people on the aggregate commit suicide by jumping off buildings, poisoning and suffocation than with guns. In other words, if you took away guns those who want to commit suicide will find other means.
Buildings and bridges are everywhere. Over thirty thousand people a year don’t kill themselves because buildings and bridges are easily accessible. They kill themselves because there’s something wrong with them in their head.
We need to stop trying to blame the hardware and start talking about addressing mental health issues. That’s the real problem.