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US Politics & Events

#549
Feb04.2013 

Doing the morbid gun numbers -- trying to make sense of idiotic, well-intentioned reporters. 

Just as sure as stink follows a skunk, we knew the gun control crowd would exploit the Sandy Hook killings to the max.  Following the lead of the Brady Center, it has become a popular MSM ploy to use Dec14.2012 -- the date those kids were killed -- as time = 0 and start counting "gun deaths" from that date.  And the whole point is . . . well, you'll have to tell me.      

Slate's daily gun-death numbers
Slate
is publicizing some guy who is keeping this ghoulish count via twitter.  Chris Kirk and Dan Kois  at Slate are keeping a running tally -- 1500 through Feb01 -- but it is not clear what they are doing or where they are getting their numbers.  Are they just repeating the twitter dude's numbers?  In their article they note:

Suicides, which are estimated to make up as much as 60 percent of gun deaths, typically go unreported. Nevertheless, we at Slate want to assemble the data as best we can.  

What does this mean?  Does it mean they are including suicides in their numbers?  It's an important question, and the fact that they don't clarify doesn't say a lot for their journalistic competence, regardless of how good their intentions are.  At any rate the Slate numbers calculate to 31 gun deaths a day, however Slate is defining "gun deaths."

HuffPo's daily gun-death numbers
But for journalistic incompetence, you can't beat HuffPoJason Cherkis decided to follow the Slate approach and started compiling gun deaths since Sandy Hook.  His article went up on Feb01, at which time he totes up 1280 gun deaths.  He notes that Slate, as of that date, had counted 1475.  But the question again arises -- is Cherkis including suicides?  Here's what he says: 

"Slate has counted 1475 fatal shooting deaths since Newtown, including suicides and police-involved shooting deaths, which the Huffington Post did not include in its tally."

Due to his poor semantics, this could be taken two ways.  Cherkis could be saying that he is excluding both suicides and cops killing people, or he could be saying he is excluding just the cop-induced killings.  You can't tell to what "which" refers.  OK, we don't know what he's talking about but the daily toll comes out to 27 gun deaths/day -- not far from Slate's estimate of 31.

The veteran component -- wars come home.  All of them.
Another HuffPo article running the same day is highly relevant but ignored by Cherkis.  This is a Reuters article that says vets are killing themselves at a rate of 22/day.  That's just vets!  Good God!  Stats found on Wiki tell us that 60% of suicides in the US are by gun, and we would expect that the vets will be higher than the average because men use guns more often than women.  But at just the 60% rate, we can estimate that 13 of the vets' suicides each day are by gun.  OK, hold that number in your head.  

We now go back to the HuffPo number of 27 gun deaths/day.  Total.  But we can't tell if it includes suicides, so we have to look at it from both angles.  If it does not include suicides, then the "real" number that does include suicides is 68/day, which puts it way out of whack with Slate's number.  The reason we can do that calculation is because we know that 60% of all gun deaths are suicides.  This is a different stat than saying 60% of all suicides are by gun.  These are different stats that come out to being the same number, which makes it a bit confusing.  

OK, so if HuffPo's total rate is really 68/day, which includes suicides, and if suicides are 60% of that number then the daily gun-suicide rate is 41/day.  And we are told by the Reuters article that 13 of those are veterans.  So 32% of gun-suicides come from the sub-population of vets, which is 7% of the total population, according to the Dept. of Veterans' Affairs.  

Please note that we're calculating a hidden cost of US wars, for all of you super-patriots who want to jump up and wave a flag every time the US attacks some country.  Every war comes home.

But we still have to look at the HuffPo number of 27 gun deaths/day assuming that it includes suicides, since Cherkis didn't go to the trouble to make it clear.  If that number includes suicides, then the daily rate of gun-suicides is 16/day, of which 13 are vets.  This would mean that vets account for a whopping 81% of gun-suicides  Furthermore, this analysis means that of HuffPo's total gun-death rate of 27/day, only 11/day are non-suicides, which would include accidents and homicides.  Both of these numbers seem way off, just by gut feeling.    

The Gutter Grunt's numbers
So the bottom line is, reading Slate and HuffPo you come out knowing less than when you went in.  Let's try a different tack.  

According to Wiki, the total gun-death rate for the US is about 10 per 100,000 per year.  For a population of 310 million that punches out to 82 gun-deaths/day, which includes suicides.  If you remove the 60% gun-suicides, the number is 33/day, which is in the ball-park for both Slate's and HuffPo's numbers, suggesting that they both exclude suicides.  

That also means that 49 gun-deaths/day are suicides, of which, 13, or 27%, are vets.  Again this is out of a sub-population of 7% of the total population.

You know, as much as I don't want to, I have to admit that the gun-loonies have a point.  Mitigating mental health disorders and suicides should be a first priority.  Tightening down on access to guns by those with violent criminal histories should be a second priority.  This would not only potentially cut the gun-death rate by 80%, it would make peaceful, non-violent, sane Americans safer, and likely reduce the perception that they need protective firearms.  As long as Americans have reason to be in fear, they will be.  And they will be amenable to being stirred up by nuttos like Ted Nugent and Alex Jones.    

   

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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