Albert Maslar / February 5, 2013

Guns Not the Worst Killer

Federal data shows a 2009 total of 31,236 firearm-related deaths nationwide, approximately a rate retained for 2010 while there were 36,361 motor vehicle-related deaths in 2009. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 11,101 gang-related homicides using firearms in 2011 and 11,078 in 2010, meaning that about 1/3rd of gun-related deaths are caused by gangs, and half related to drug-turf wars. The FBI reports there were 8,583 gun related murders during 2011, about ¼th of all gun related deaths.

Chicago has the most gun control of any US city, as Chicago gun deaths in the last two years have reached 435 and counting, surpassing 402 troop deaths in Afghanistan for 2012. AP reports that so far this year there have been 154 suicides among active-duty troops, a rate of nearly one each day this year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report showed 9,878 drunk driving fatalities in 2011, the first time drunk driving fatalities have fallen below 10,000, but still about 1/3rd of gun related deaths.

CDC reported 38,364 suicide deaths in the US in 2010, curiously, higher than gun-related deaths. In 2011 America had more than 19,000 suicides committed by firearms, about half the total of all gun deaths.

CDC reports that suicides in the US are related to economic downturns and increase during periods of economic crisis, like the Great Depression, the 1970s oil crisis, and the recession in the 1980s. Other studies estimate that people with employment difficulties are two to three times as likely to commit suicide than the population as whole.

CDC Breakdown of 2010 Deaths:

Injury deaths 180,811; per 100,000 population: 58.6
Motor vehicle traffic deaths 33,687; per 100,000 population: 10.9
Poisoning deaths 42,917; per 100,000 population: 13.9
Firearm deaths 31,672 (19,000 suicides); per 100,000 population: 10.3
AIDS deaths 22,800; per 100,000 population: 8.7

According to the Congressional Research Service, in 2009 there were an estimated 310 million non-military firearms in the US, approximating the general population, equating to about one gun for each resident. Of these, there were 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles, and 86 million shotguns.

More than 1.1 million in the US are living with HIV/AIDS. Male to male sexual (MSM) contact accounts for half of new AIDS cases while intravenous drug use accounts for 20% of new cases, but about 20% are unaware of their infection. By race, young Black/African men are most seriously affected by HIV, and representing 17% of the population were plagued with 10,600 deaths in 2010, nearly matching the white population 11,200 deaths.

In 2010, the CDC reported 35.7% of American adults as obese, white adults 26.8% compared to black adults 36.9% while 17% of American children were obese. Deaths from obesity in the US have risen to the number six cause of death.

Nearly 1.2 million victims of heart disease and cancer constitute the leading causes of death in the US. Tobacco is the second and alcohol use is third leading cause of death. Smoking accounted for 6.3 million deaths in 2010 and alcohol consumption 4.9 million.

Drug overdoses and brain damage linked to long-term drug abuse killed an estimated 37,485 people in 2009, the latest year for which preliminary data are available, surpassing the toll of traffic accidents by 1,201.

According to World Health Organization, deaths due to unsafe abortion remain close to 13% of all maternal deaths. Unsafe abortion-related deaths have, however, reduced to 47 000 in 2008 from 56 000 in 2003 and 69 000 in 1990; corresponding to the decline in the overall number of maternal deaths to 358 000 in 2008 from 546 000 in 1990. Although unsafe abortions are preventable, they continue to pose undue risks to women’s health and lives.

Premature death, intended or not, is everywhere enabling people to find an instrument of death, be it instantaneous or long and drawn out. All the political grease is now going to the gun issue but a closer examination above shows that actual context diminishes the need for gun hysteria.

Medications, legal or not, are a major contributing factor to the 24/7 news cycle feeding on violence that obsesses the US. As usual, simple solutions work best. JOBS JOBS JOBS will solve a multitude of problems. Guns are only one human problem; take them away and something else will take its place. Give people jobs, a regular adequate paycheck, and a return to family and related religious values, and there will not be time to fritter away on violent video games and drugs to pacify the pain, only to be acted out in real time.

Too many people, about 15%, have no job or inadequate jobs but the myopic powers that be traverse the country deploring guns and ignore the day-to-day problems of unemployment, deficit spending, and accelerating national debt. Prospects for jobs are squelched by the EPA and Environmentalists who would treat a hangnail by bleeding the patient to death.

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