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I find this topic fascinating, from a sociological standpoint, how easily are people influenced by what they see, hear or read much of it digested in “sound bites” and how easily can an issue that affects .00009% (this is “9” hundred thousandths of a point) of the population (32K/320million) be conflated to suggest it affects a much larger percentage of the population. Narratives consumed passively rarely if ever are fact based… If you were asked, “Is gun violence on the rise?” what would you say? If you would say yes you would be factually wrong. According to both Pew Research and FBI statistics gun violence is dramatically lower than in the 70’s and is down 49% since 1996, all while the amount of guns in the population has grown to over 300 million. Am I suggesting causation? No…but I am suggesting that the facts bear out more guns does not mean an escalation in gun violence either.

When it comes to suicide which represents a full two thirds of gun deaths in America (deaths that pose no risk to the public at large going about their lives) you would think our suicide rate would be higher because of guns yet it is consistent and in some cases lower than other countries that have much stricter gun laws. The US has a lower suicide rate than Japan, Finland, Belgium, and France and is on par with Austria, Ireland, Sweden, and Australia. Am I saying that mentally ill people that pose harm to themselves should have ready access to guns? No. Much of the frustration related to background checks and their lack of effectiveness as it relates to mental health is a direct result of states not submitting more robust data to the Federal government. This is a worthy and potentially very effective pursuit.
On average there are 11K gun deaths per year attributable to homicide or the far less negligent (although tragic) use of a firearm, that represents .00003% (this is “3” hundred thousandths of a point) of the US population. These are the deaths that theoretically affect the public at large. But if you are not dealing drugs, in a gang or live in a rough urban area where most homicides occur your chance of being affected by gun violence is extremely remote. By contrast diabetes affects 29 million Americans if you reduce that by 1% you save 290,000 people if you affect 1% of gun deaths you save 300 people when adding in suicide or 110 people excluding suicide. The point is both are very worthy pursuits but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that all of the time, energy, effort and resources applied to reducing “gun violence” is an effort to achieve the “most” or “greatest” good from a societal impact standpoint.
I cannot conceive of something that affects nine hundred thousandths of a point of the US population getting more outsized attention than this issue. It’s a powerful reminder of both the influence of the media and our willingness to accept the narrative of the day without due diligence or an appraisal of the facts or the ultimate impact of the issue. There are likely many people based on what they see, hear or read who live in fear of guns and gun violence but that is an irrational fear, based on the facts.
This issue is much more of a politically charged issue of ideology than a pragmatic, real world appraisal of the “problem” of gun violence. Are there families and friends affected by gun violence that broaden the concern? Yes but exponentially more are affected by the 610K that die annually from heart disease and the 584K that die from cancer and the 149K that die from respiratory disease and the 130K that die from accidents and the 128K that die from stroke and the 84K that die from Alzheimer’s and the 75K that die from Diabetes. Someone can decide they truly want to do the most good or they can decide to do what suits their political ideology; in the case of gun violence it is
impossible and mutually exclusive to achieve both.
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