A reader writes:
I’m disappointed that you only put up the numbers from accidental gun deaths. It seems a bit disingenuous, as the number of non-accidental car deaths, pool deaths, etc., are, of course, dramatically lower. In 2010 the FBI recorded 12,996 homicides. Of those, 8,775 were committed with guns. That compares to 1,704 with knives, the next closest, 540 with blunt objects, and 11 with poison. Even if you would argue that, of those killed by guns, many would have been killed with another weapon, it’s hard to see how that would directly play out. How many drive-by knifings can you have? How many people can get hit by crossfire from a baseball bat?
How about suicide? In 2010, we had 19,392 gun suicides. Not so many with cars. And for those who would argue that guns don’t matter when it comes to suicide (i.e. people will kill themselves regardless of what tools they have to accomplish the deed), multiple studies have proven that access to guns dramatically raises the risk of a successful suicide attempt.
But if you want to stick with just accidental deaths, as you’ve done, let’s contextualize it a bit. From 2005-2010, almost 3,800 people in the US died from unintentional shootings. 1,300 of those were under the age of 25. 31% of those shootings could have been prevented by the addition of two devices: a child-proof safety lock and a loading indicator. And 8% of those shootings (that’s 304) were carried out by shots fired from children under the age of six. How many accidental road deaths are caused by drivers who are under the age of six?
So, yes, lots of stuff can kill you. No surprise. But in the US, we’re at a much higher risk of death by firearm because of the lobbying efforts of the industry whose product is design to kill.
Another reader, from the other side of the debate, quotes Waldman:
On one hand, there are over 300 million of us, so only one in 500,000 Americans is killed every year because his knumbskull cousin said “Hey Bert, is this thing loaded?” before pulling the trigger. You can see that as a small number. The other way to look at is that each and every day, an American or two loses his or her life this way. In countries with sane gun laws, that 606 number is somewhere closer to zero.
That sentence encapsulates what I hate about the anti-gun crowd.