For all their sins, The Trace doesn’t exactly make up data. While they’re a blatantly anti-gun “news” source, they don’t manufacture information or falsify statistics to get their story.
However, they’re notorious for only presenting half the story. The anti-gun half.
Take, for example, one of their latest, which argues that murder-suicides using firearms are a daily occurrence.
On Saturday, a 45-year-old man fatally shot his parents at their home in eastern Kentucky and then drove to an apartment where he shot and killed his girlfriend and her mother before turning the gun on himself.
“What devastates me to the core, is I can visually see and hear her trying to talk her son down” before Nickell began his rampage, a friend of his mother’s posted on Facebook. “Like any family, they too fought their own demons, but Joe loved his family.”
Murder-suicide by gun occurs, on average, every day in America. Through the first six weeks of 2018, according to an analysis of Gun Violence Archive data, there were at least 76 instances in which someone shot and killed someone they knew and then killed themselves. At least 171 people died during this period. The attackers ranged in age from 17 to 86. In all but six cases, the shooter was male, and the vast majority of cases involved current or former romantic partners.
Murder-suicide is a category of gun violence that often includes public gun rampages, like last year’s mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip. In 2017, there were 592 instances of murder-suicide, resulting in 1,381 deaths and 507 injuries, according to an analysis of Gun Violence Archive data. That tally includes mass shooting casualties in Bronx, New York; Las Vegas; Sutherland Springs, Texas; and Corning, California. Public mass shootings accounted for the high injury toll last year — the Las Vegas gunman shot 480 people, 58 fatally, before killing himself. Without accounting for high-profile mass shootings, injuries in murder-suicide incidents in 2017 totalled 47.
One in three people shot in the United States dies; if the shooting is a murder-suicide, our analysis found, the mortality rate is far higher.
To see murder-suicide numbers this high, if accurate, is concerning. However, there’s another side to the story that’s not being discussed, and that’s how often a firearm is used to defend human life.
While the idea of a murder-suicide per day is troubling, it’s also irrelevant in light of how often a firearm is used to defend someone. Even the most conservative estimate of defensive gun uses per year tends to place that at about 100,000 uses annually. That works out to almost 274 defensive firearm uses per day. If you prefer higher estimates, then the disparity in magnitude only grows.
For the families who lost loved ones in these horrific crimes, that’s small solace, I’m sure. However, when we are trying to talk about policy, emotion has to be set aside. We need to look at cold, hard data and debate that, not the feelings of what it’s like to lose someone like that.
Yet The Trace doesn’t really present all the data. In fairness, I don’t expect them to. They’re a biased source dedicated to trying to take down the Second Amendment. At least they’re honest about it.
But other media outlets will parrot these findings without any critical thought, never thinking about the balance between the noble uses of a firearm and the villainous ones.
Then again, I shouldn’t expect that of them either.