When it comes to making an anti-gun point, every death matters. There’s a reason anti-gun zealots lump suicide numbers in with homicides to make their point. They want as large a number as humanly possible because big numbers look scary. They can’t quite get away with just throwing out large numbers with absolutely no basis in reality–though they’re close to that, don’t get me wrong–so they gather anything that looks remotely like a gun death to make their point.
As a result, they really aren’t happy when something like this happens.
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.
Of course, the experts don’t have a bloody clue precisely why those numbers are down, of course. They’re mostly making guesses as to what the cause was.
This particular story was from the L.A. Times, but why isn’t this news everywhere?
John Sexton over at Hot Air offered this:
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. Do we really need to bother with arguing over whywhen you see that sort of a headline? Well… yes, for two reasons. One is so that we can replicate the success across the board using the same methods. Sadly, the other is to make sure that people aren’t incorrectly claiming victory as an excuse to push their agenda. But what was the real cause here?
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.
I tend to agree with Sexton that this is probably the result of more people properly storing firearms–something they should have done without a law telling them to do it–and firearm education.
The L.A. Times was also quick to point out that any decrease in accidental deaths has been made up for by an uptick in homicides this year. What they fail to note, however, is that the number of defensive uses of firearms is several times greater than the total number of firearm-related deaths, even if you lump in suicides. While there is a very wide range of estimates for defensive firearm usage, even the lower end number of 108,000 is still several times greater than the number of deaths from firearm use.
In fact, it’s almost like guns make us safer.
But you shouldn’t expect the mainstream media to report that, just like you shouldn’t expect them to a decrease in firearm-related accidents. The truth is, they’re not about the news or the facts but the narrative.