The Hill had news. They’d just learned that 2017 was the first year in which cars were responsible for fewer deaths than firearms. In a state of panic over guns throughout the nation, this is distressing news. In fact, it’s likely to be used as evidence that we need to do something about guns. That’s especially true when a common rejoinder among gun rights advocates is that cars kill more people than guns.
There’s just one problem with the report.
The number of Americans who died from firearms surpassed those who died in car accidents for the first time in 2017, according to a new far-reaching report on gun violence.
The report, released Wednesday by Democratic members of the congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC), found that nearly 40,000 people were killed in the U.S. by a gun, including approximately 2,500 school-age children.
“That is over 100 people per day and more than five children killed each day,” the report stated.
In 2017, 37,133 people died in motor vehicle crashes, according to the Department of Transportation.
“I believe that Congress must act to stem the gun violence epidemic in our country,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the top Democrat on the JEC, said during a committee hearing on Wednesday.
She added that while the report focused on the economic costs of gun violence, “there is no way to estimate the cost of a human life.”
States with the highest rates of gun ownership, including Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Montana, West Virginia and Wyoming have the highest rates of gun suicides. Sixty percent of the total number of people who died from firearms died by suicide.
Sixty percent of these fatalities occur when someone misuses a firearm with the express intent to take their own life, and yet we’re supposed to restrict ownership in general because of these acts? No. Just…no.
Suicide is a problem, but gun ownership doesn’t make that go away. There are other methods of suicide out there, after all.
Instead, the focus should be on the mental health system, including efforts to destigmatize mental illness in such a way that people will start asking for help rather than taking their own lives. We also need to understand the mindset behind suicide so we can combat it more effectively.
After all, those who take their own lives aren’t necessarily thinking about their acts selfishly. They think their loved ones would be better off without them. We need to understand that and counter that to reduce suicides and, by extension, the total number of supposed firearm fatalities.
The upside of that approach is that we also reduce the number of suicides by pills, hanging, jumping from tall objects, car exhaust, and by any other method you care to name.
When The Hill opted to try and bury that tidbit halfway down the story, especially knowing how many readers only skim the first part of a piece, they sought to maintain a narrative of “gunz r bad.” They wanted us to think the homicide rate accounted for it, but they couldn’t afford to lie about it. So, they structured the piece deceptively.
Heaven forbid people see that we have a bigger issue that mass shootings in this country, right?