RobL

  1. Mr. Marcus,

    While I do respect the life-saving intent of your editorial, and also agree with the idea of it falling on deaf ears, I would like to point out where your reformation efforts would be better spent.

    Your statistics are not incorrect; I independently compiled my own statistics from various government agency sources. I used 2004 as a reference year for no other reason than some of the statistical sources I reviewed went no further.

    Again, your statistics are not incorrect. Of approximately 16,400 homicides in 2004, just over 10,600 are gun-related (including firearms of all types). That leaves more than 1/3rd of murders committed by people that went to much more effort using knives and, to an equal statistic, "other methods". I won't make the absurd argument that knives and blunt objects should be outlawed, but the fact is that murders will still occur by the thousands on an annual basis. I think it's safe to say that if all guns were instantly removed from circulation that some percentage of the murders committed by firearm would still be committed. In a murder, a firearm is an instrument, not the impetus.

    On to other statistics for 2004:

    42,836 - automotive deaths (NHTSA) - despite auto safety, people still die - mostly lack of good driver education being the cause.
    5,764 - accidental occupational deaths (BLS) - that's about 1/3rd of 2004's total murder statistic. People are twice as likely to die at work than to be murdered with a knife.
    1100 - aviation deaths (average 1999-2011 excluding 2001)(ACRO) - not sure about the venn diagram common set of airline employees also listed as "occupational deaths".
    394,000 - smoking (NOT including deaths from secondhand smoke) (CDC)
    49,400 - secondhand smoke exposure (CDC)

    The last two are where I'm recommending a change in your reformation efforts. Smoking deaths aren't shocking, they don't make the week's news cycle, they don't present the drama of a deranged individual killing indiscriminately. But smoking deaths do share a few things with firearm deaths; children die, adults die, human behavior is a factor, and there are already strict government regulations on the use of the product.

    So what's the difference between smoking and firearms use? Smoking kills 40 times the number of people every year. Almost 450,000 people die from the "suicide" of smoking. Yet when we see our friends, relatives, even teenagers lighting up, well, we shrug it off. To put it in the perspective of the horrible recent theater killings, a 40-fold increase in death statistics is like Jim Holmes walking into that theater and Marlboroing 480 people to death with another 2300 suffering from severe Pall Malling.

    Even excluding those who made the conscious choice to smoke, almost 50,000 die annually from secondhand smoke. These are non-smokers who have little choice in the exposure. That means even for those not choosing to smoke, the 2004 statistics show that a person is 3.5X more likely to die from secondhand smoke exposure than to be murdered by any method whatsoever, and 5X more likely than to be murdered by a firearm.

    When was the last time lawmakers stood up in front of the nation and called for a complete smoking ban? When was the last time the NWI Times ran an editorial against smoking? Mr. Marcus, where is your passion about these people being senselessly killed by tobacco that far exceeds firearm deaths?

    Before you or anyone think I'm some type of NRA shill, I assure you I'm not. I think their political agenda actually hurts their gun education efforts and entrenches their opponents. I believe if they stuck to education and safety efforts, including pushing for more psychological screening of gun purchasers, then they would be helping everybody to a greater degree.

    As an Economist yourself, you understand that human behavior is often irrational. So whenever a big anti-gun campaign rolls around, what's the result? Gun purchases skyrocket. That's the exact opposite of the intended effect... and now that we've seen the exact same cycle a few times over the past few decades, it's no surprise that gun sellers laugh all the way to the bank when "gun control" is in the headlines.

    Guns don't kill people... and even people don't kill people. Crazy nutjobs that should have been identified earlier kill people, and would find other methods if firearms were not available.
    August 05, 2012 9:26 pm on EYE ON THE PIE: It's time to get serious about gun control
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