New Site Tallies U.S. Gun Deaths Since Newtown (Slate)

Although it admits its data is likely incomplete, Slate has posted an interactive, crowdsourced site of all the men, women and children who’ve died by gunshot since Dec. 14, the day of the Newtown shootings. That number, as of Jan. 11, was 734: 626 men and 105 women. Included in that figure were 27 teenagers and 8 children.

Slate is working with the Twitter feed, @GunDeaths, which is trying to “create a real-time chronicle of the deaths attributable to guns in the United States.” The anonymous creator of @GunDeaths tweets every reported death he can find to call attention to the daily toll of gun violence in our country.

3 comments to New Site Tallies U.S. Gun Deaths Since Newtown (Slate)

  • Steven Plourde

    During Christmas week, Chicago “proudly” announced that it had achieved 500 homicides in 2012. Since it is virtually impossible to own a gun legally in Chicago, it is obvious that gun control laws are useless.

    It is likely that the majority of gunshot deaths occurred in big cities like Chicago, New York, and Washington, DC; what purpose is served by the twitter feed @GunDeaths except to remind us that gun control laws do not work?

    How about making “gun related crimes” subject to life in prison or capital punishment? At least that will take the perps who get caught off the streets forever and their rate of recidivism will be zero!

    It is the height of chutzpah that a decerebrate like Eric Holder would push gun control legislation when he encouraged the sale of thousands of assault weapons to drug cartels!

  • Dale Tomlinson

    I cannot help but respond to my classmate Steve’s harangue. Whether or not Chicago was proud of having 500 homicides last year or was proud that there were not more can be argued. There were almost twice as many in 1974 and 1992, and I suspect that they were relieved things were not worse. Maybe new gun restrictions — minimal as they are — played a part.

    In any case, it is almost impossible to prove a negative. The question, the answer to which we can only guess, is what would have been the number of gun deaths with no restrictions. There is no “control group” for the gun restriction “experiment” in Chicago. Therefore, the conclusion that “it is obvious that gun control laws are useless” is only speculation, without facts to back it up.

    That said, it is interesting that so many other modern countries have so much less violence — and especially less gun violence — and they have strict gun laws. The purpose of the grim tally on Slate is to remind us of the fact that we are indeed “exceptional” (to use an overused description of ourselves), and it is not necessarily anything about which we should boast. No gun restrictions will eliminate gun violence; but it has to be seen as long term commitment. Over decades, the number functioning guns in society can be brought down — certainly the number of those derived from designs for which the purpose is hunting people.

    As for Eric Holder being a decerebrate (yes, I had to look it up, but my guess was close), I believe this falls into the category of “lack of civility” (another American exceptional-ism) in our modern discourse. Come on Steve! We both served in the Army (you longer than I); you never saw a complicated operation get fouled up? As I understand it, “Fast and Furious” was planting recorded weapons on the market to trace and establish the routes by which weapons were leaving the US for Mexico’s criminal elements, certainly not to supply the cartels with arms. Overambitious, maybe. The fact that many weapons were lost was a foul-up by people on the ground who should have been more diligent. Your hyperbolic language regarding the attorney general encouraging gun sales to drug lords adds nothing to the debate.

  • Steven Smith

    Dale,

    You mention that other countries have less violence. First of all, what I think you mean to say is fewer suicides/homicides. According to European Commission and United Nations statistics, Britain actually has far more violent crime than America.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196941/The-violent-country-Europe-Britain-worse-South-Africa-U-S.html#axzz2KL2WapI5

    If you would have said homicides and suicides you would have been correct. What is interesting about that is that countries like Britain and Australia have ALWAYS had lower homicide rates than the U.S. (suicides are a slightly different story).
    “The murder rate in New York has been several times that in London for more than two centuries — and, for most of that time, neither place had strong gun control laws. New York had strong gun control laws years before London did, but New York still had several times the murder rate of London.

    It was in the later decades of the 20th century that the British government clamped down with severe gun control laws, disarming virtually the entire law-abiding citizenry. Gun crimes, including murder, rose as the public was disarmed.

    Meanwhile, murder rates in the United States declined during the same years when murder rates in Britain were rising, which were also years when Americans were buying millions more guns per year.”
    http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/news-versus-propaganda.html

    For the sake of argument let’s look at Suicide and Homicide rates in a country with STRICT gun control laws, starting with suicide rates.

    Australia, a country which has many cultural similarities to our own, removed firearms through a mandatory ‘gun buyback’ program following a school shooting in 1996. Overall suicide statistics are roughly the same now as they were in the early 90’s and are comparable to rates here in the U.S. Teenage suicide rates (15-19) in 2008 were lower in the U.S. than in Australia. The most common methods of suicide in Australia in recent years have been hanging and poisoning. What this suggests is that, while Australia did successfully reduce the number of firearm related suicides, they were unsuccessful at reducing over-all suicide rates. I believe that solutions to the suicide problem will be found in the mental-health field as opposed to in gun control.
    http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/revealed-australias-suicide-epidemic-20090820-es3p.html
    http://www.lifeline.org.au/About-Lifeline/Media-Centre/Suicide-Statistics-in-Australia/Suicide-Statistics
    http://www.who.int/mental_health/media/austral.pdf
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/suiciderate.html
    http://www.oecd.org/els/familiesandchildren/48968307.pdf

    In regards to homicide statistics, another interesting thing we learn from Australia’s example is that, while reducing gun ownership reduces firearm homicides, it does not impact overall homicide rates. According to United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime statistics, Australia’s homicide rate statistics were 1.8 (per 100,000 ppl) in 1995, 1.7 in 1996 and up to 1.8 again in 1999, three years after their gun buybacks. They have been on an over-all downward trend in the last couple of decades, in 2010 their homicide rate was down to 1.0 (approximately 45% reduction over 1995 rates). This trend however has been fairly consistent in other countries including the U.S. (approximately 41% reduction in homicide rate from 1995 to 2010). It is also worth noting that New Zealand, which closely neighbors Australia and has far more lenient gun laws, has almost the exact same homicide rate, 1.1 per 100,000 in 2010 (though they beat Australia’s rate in a number of years).
    What the surprising lack of a significant drop in homicides in the years immediately following the massive gun-buy back suggests is that, without guns, people just find other ways to murder each other.
    http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/statistics/crime/Homicide_statistics2012.xls

    As far as the argument regarding ‘accidental’ child firearm deaths; According to CDC statistics for 2010, 62 children were killed as a result of a firearm accident that year. That is approximately one out of every five million Americans. While tragic, this statistic is tiny compared to the number of lives saved (including children’s) by the defensive use of firearms. For comparison, that same year 88 children died as a result of accidental poisoning, approximately one third more than were killed accidentally by firearms.
    http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/leadcaus10_us.html

    On the topic of the benefits of firearm ownership. There have been countless studies (National Self-Defense Survey, GUNS AND JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE: DETERRENCE AND DEFENSE, etc…) on the subject and most agree that defensive gun usage is common.

    “Putting together all of these results, we find that there is a good correspondence among them. They are derived from different approaches, so that correspondence adds credibility to each method. Somewhere around 0.8 to 2.0 million violent crimes are deterred each year because of gun ownership and use by civilians. In addition, another 1.5 to 2.5 million crimes are stopped by armed civilians. There may be some overlap in these two categories because of the ways in which the data are collected, but there are almost certainly some two to four million fewer completed crimes each year as the result of civilian gun ownership. Returning to Figure 1, the numbers of crimes “A. Deterred by Police/Courts/Corrections” are unknown. The numbers in “B. Stopped by Police” are certainly quite low because police usually respond after the crime is completed. The numbers in “C. Deterred by Civilians” would seem to be around 0.8 to 2.0 million. The numbers in “D. Stopped by Civilians” are around 1.5 to 2.5 million. Finally, the numbers in “E. Completed Crimes” are about 3.5 million, based on NCVS data. Without the civilian guns being used to deter and stop crimes, the numbers of completed crimes could well double. It would undoubtedly be the case that increased gun ownership would further reduce crime.”
    http://saf.org/LawReviews/SouthwickJr1.htm

    Chicago serves as a great example of the failures of gun control. They have an extremely low rate of gun ownership yet have an extremely high-rate of crime.
    “Chicago’s murder rate is far worse now than it was during the city’s most notorious crime era, Al Capone’s “gangland,” when gun-control laws hardly existed, ABC reports.
    Leading up to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, there were 26 killings in January 1929. Yet, 42 people were killed in Chicago last month, catching the attention of Chicagoans, the White House and politicians nationwide.”
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/feb/4/chicago-murder-rate-far-worse-strict-gun-ontrol/

    Another example would be D.C. where Homicide-rates have continued to drop since the Heller decision effectively overturned the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 which prohibited citizens from owning handguns in D.C.
    http://mpdc.dc.gov/page/district-crime-data-glance

    While correlation does not necessarily imply causation; the examples of D.C. and Chicago are consistent with what would be expected if we were to assume that the finding of the National Self-Defense Survey, GUNS AND JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE: DETERRENCE AND DEFENSE, and the many other studies which suggest that defensive gun usage by private citizens plays a vital role in crime prevention and deterrence.

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