What Reuters doesn’t say about "gun violence"

Reuters has decided to enter the gun rights debate in the U.S. The article, not surprisingly, takes the view that the U.S. has entirely too many firearms in private hands, of varieties that are entirely too powerful for civilians (can anyone tell me what the hell a “high powered ‘assault weapon’ ” is, and how it varies from a “regular powered” so-called “assault weapon”?), sold, possessed, and (gasp!) even carried with entirely too few restrictions and too little bureaucratic oversight–and that’s why about 30,000 Americans (or about one in 10,000, or .01%) die of gunshot wounds every year.

Of course, it would take a fair amount of drama out of their story if they mentioned that over half of these deaths are suicides, meaning that the number of people who die of gunshot wounds who didn’t want to die is less than 15,000, or in terms of the population as a whole, not 1 in 20,000, or .005% of the population. Part of that not quite .005% of the population consists of people who were shot and killed justifiably, either by police, or by armed private citizens who refused to be victims of felonious thugs. Still another slice of that pie consists of gang members shot by other gang members, in wars over drug dealing turf. The last two categories hardly seem a great loss.

The article also points out that there are over 200 million privately owned firearms in the U.S., and that this number climbs (or “swells,” in the author’s colorful parlance) by several million each year. That “swelling” brings up an interesting point: if the number of shooting deaths is directly correlated to the number of firearms, and if the number of firearms increases by several million each year, shouldn’t shooting death numbers rise accordingly? Well, they should, if the premise of “more guns = more shooting deaths” holds true, but according to data from Centers for Disease Control, this isn’t the case, with shooting deaths per 100,000 staying constant (from 1999 to 2003–the years for which I found data) within a few percentage points (and vastly lower than in the dark days of the early to mid 90’s, when there were vastly fewer states with concealed carry, and in which the ban on so-called “assault weapons” got its start).

In fact, a major study conducted by the CDC found no proof that gun laws reduce violence. You can bet your backside that Reuters didn’t bother to mention that particular fact, despite its clear relevance to any discussion about gun legislation and its success (or lack thereof) at reducing violence.

Much better to simply ignore facts that don’t fit the intended slant.

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