Is Washington Post right in report on gun violence?

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The Washington Post has run numerous stories through the year decrying gun ownership in various ways. It’s no surprise that they’d continue to beat the drum with more anti-Second Amendment rhetoric.

None of this will surprise much of anyone.

However, I have a right to expect them to be accurate in their reporting. To have opinion on the opinion page is fine. As a political commentator, I’d hardly begrudge them being able to do the same thing I do on a daily basis.

But a report in the Health section is what’s got me fired up about the paper today. It seems they want to frame just how bad guns are by framing it in various ways.

In an analysis in Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open, researchers found that between 2009 and 2018, the United States lost 12.6 million years of life because of firearms alone.

The team used Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data and death certificates. Over the period studied, they found, firearm deaths increased by 0.72 percent every year, rising from 47 percent of trauma deaths to nearly 51 percent.

Note how they left out the decades of homicides dropping.

That’s right, this increase in “gun deaths” is due to suicides, not anything else, which makes it a mental health issue, not a gun issue. After all, people commit suicide with tons of other methods as well, yet there’s no push to restrict them in any way.

When the researchers calculated years lost based on an average life expectancy of 80 years, they found that White males, who constitute the majority of firearm deaths, lost the most years of potential life because of suicide by gun — a total of 4.95 million potential years during the decade-long study period. White males under 45 were 46 percent less likely to die by firearm suicide than their older counterparts.

The problem with this method is that you have to assume that everyone who died would have lived out their full life expectancy.

Another problem, of course, is that life expectancy in the United States isn’t 80 years, but 78.8. While that may not sound like a big difference, you’re taking that 1.2 yers and spreading it out over tens of thousands of people every year for a decade.

That piles up pretty quickly.

But that’s not the only basic fact they screwed up, either.

The researchers found stark regional differences in the trends, and point out that the South — the region with the highest number of registered firearms — has a higher level of gun-related suicide and homicide than the rest of the nation.

Now, some will read this and think that yes, there are more guns in the South than elsewhere. However, that’s not what it says. It says more registered guns.

There’s not a single southern state that requires gun registration.

Without a requirement for gun registration, there typically isn’t a firearm registry. In other words, there’s no way there are more registered firearms in the South because there are no registries in the South. Yes, it sounds like semantics, but if either the researchers or the reporter couldn’t report this simple thing as fact, it raises questions about the veracity of the rest of the report, in my opinion.

Look, no one is disputing that suicides are bad, and that is clearly where much of this loss of life actually comes from. That’s simple to see and we’re all more than willing to discuss options.

What I personally resent is the idea that it’s the gun at fault for that or for homicides. The gun doesn’t act of its own volition. Start looking at both as a people problem and you’ll finally start to find answers.