Despite No New Gun Laws, Firearm Fatalities Didn't Increase

This time last year, anti-gunners eagerly jumped on an increase in the firearm fatality rate. That’s the rate of people who are killed with a firearm versus other causes. The numbers are released at a delayed rate, so last year’s stories were all based on violence from 2017.


Yet after 2017, there were no real advances in gun control. No new national laws, no new restrictions on firearm ownership. Nothing at all; a state we’ve been told would only make the problem worse.

Well, we have 2018’s numbers in and guess what?

The report, which is often released 12 or so months after year-end, shows nearly 40,000 people died by firearms in America, including suicide, homicide and accidents. The rate of firearm deaths dipped slightly between 2017 and 2018, going from 12 to 11.9 per 100,000 people.

Those numbers are age-adjusted, meaning researchers controlled for differences in the distribution of various age groups, which can affect mortality rates.

In 2017, 39,773 people died by firearm, the highest number of firearm deaths recorded since the CDC started tracking them in 1979.

In 2018, an almost identical 39,741 people died by firearm.

Now, I’ll be honest. Holding ground isn’t really ideal. I won’t pretend it is.

However, there’s something important we all need to understand about these numbers, and that’s how that 39,741 number comes about. You see, that’s the total number of people killed with a firearm. It doesn’t differentiate between homicide and suicide, a point anti-gunners typically ignore while bandying it about like a club.


Suicide is a mental health issue, not a gun issue. Suicide may be carried out most often with a gun, but it’s not the only way someone can kill themselves. Gun control only attempts to address one of those methods of suicide and ignores all the other.

More importantly, it ignores the roots of the issue. Namely, the mental wellbeing of the people who may attempt suicide.

The real issue, though, is violent crimes like homicide.

Yet it seems that while the total number of fatalities held pretty firm, the suicide rate is what increased.

In 2018, the number of suicides in the U.S. increased, continuing a multi-year trend.

The national age-adjusted rate ticked up slightly in 2018, going from 14 to 14.2 per 100,000 people.

A firearm is by far the most common method of suicide, accounting for about 50% nationwide and suicides account for by far the most firearms deaths.

But that relationship is often overlooked.

A 2019 national poll from APM Research Lab, Call To Mind and Guns & America found that the vast majority of Americans were unaware that suicide is the leading cause of gun deaths, overestimating the impact of mass shootings and other homicides on the numbers.


First, good on KERA News for pointing out this fact. Most media outlets tend to not dig much deeper than the total number.

That said, note that the suicide rate increased. If that went up and the overall number dipped just a bit, then we can extrapolate that gun homicides actually decreased.

And all without new gun control legislation being passed.

That’s an important point, because we were told without those laws, the problem would keep getting worse. Well, it didn’t. That’s because their attempts at scaremongering are just that, scaremongering.


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