Sharp decline in accidental deaths due to firearms

  • 2 January 2018
  • NormanL
Sharp decline in accidental deaths due to firearms

Those who have dedicated themselves to overturning the Second Amendment cite reams of statistics to prove that firearms are a scourge that must be eliminated. One typical statistic often cited is the number of accidental deaths due to firearms. But as Jazz Shaw notes, citing a piece in the Los Angeles Times, there has been some very good news on that front -- news that isn't getting a great deal of play in the other national media:

Gun violence has received no shortage of attention. But one bright spot has gotten much less: the number of accidental shooting deaths has steadily declined.

There were 489 people killed in unintentional shootings in the U.S. in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available. That was down from 824 deaths in 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Taking into account population growth over that time, the rate fell 48%.

Experts attribute the decline to a mix of gun safety education programs, state laws regulating gun storage in homes and a drop in the number of households that have guns. While the improvement occurred in every state, those with the most guns and the fewest laws continue to have the most accidental shooting deaths.

We’re talking about the period between 1999 and 2015. So basically, in a roughly fifteen-year span, the number of accidental shooting deaths has been cut in half.

This is very good news, indeed. But the reasons behind the decline in accidental firearms deaths are unclear:

Gun control advocates will want to take the same tone as that LA Times article and attribute the drop to stricter gun storage laws and fewer guns in homes (at least in some states). Second Amendment advocates will cite increased education on gun safety. There are some dire suggestions in the article about the NRA, saying that they “didn’t want to comment” on the story, but that’s a rather questionable angle to take. The NRA sponsors some of the most wide-reaching gun safety programs in the country and focuses public attention on such educational objectives constantly.

Of course, the real answer may be a little bit of both. Greater awareness and improved education are vital and certainly played a role here. But it’s also possible that some people just can’t take a hint and needed a new law forcing them to store their weapons safely when children are around. Unfortunately, such laws do little or nothing for homes without children and frequently render a firearm purchased for home protection purposes effectively useless in an emergency. That’s why common sense should play more of a role in such decisions, though that’s a commodity in short supply all too often.

Common sense doesn't play well on TV, and makes for terrible press releases from politicians intent on doing something -- anything -- to get their names in the news.

There is also this point to consider:

If we really want to make an impact on the total number of firearms related deaths in the country, progress must be made on the mental health front to cut back on the number of suicides, which account for the vast majority. Also, getting violent criminal offenders off the streets would reduce the second largest cause of shootings.

Those are far more difficult problems to address, as they, too, require a great deal of common sense on the part of politicians, law enforcement, and the general public.

Far easier (and more politically lucrative) to prattle on about the dangers of guns, and the threat posed by the Second Amendment.