Libertarians are nothing if not strong advocates of Second Amendment rights. In fact, this was one of the reasons why I left the Democratic Party for the Libertarian Party more than three years ago. Today, I’m going to talk about how gun violence statistics are greatly inflated in the United States, and what we can do to reduce gun deaths in the future without restricting our Constitutional rights.
Gun violence statistics in the U.S. are common political talking points; but how likely are you or your family to experience a gun-related death? To answer that question, we need to look at the numbers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 39,673 firearm-related deaths in the U.S. in 2017. Texas ranked the highest at 3,513 deaths. The population of the country was 325.1 million; while Texas boasted a population of about 28.8 million. Therefore, the likelihood of being killed with a gun in the U.S. and/or the state of Texas was about 0.0122%. Obviously, these numbers are surprising low, but let’s look deeper.
First, 23,854 or about 60% of all the deaths were suicide. Another 3% were accidents or committed by law enforcement officers in the line of duty. Thirty-seven percent of gun-related deaths were murders, bringing the number of victims in at 14,542. Therefore, a person in the U.S. had a 0.0045% likelihood of being murdered by a gun in the year 2017.
We can further break down the gun homicide statistics. There are several factors that increase one’s likelihood to be murdered with a gun: being a female involved in an abusive relationship or a male involved in a gang. About 600 women every year are murdered by an abusive intimate partner or ex-partner. They account for about 4.15% of all gun-related homicides, according to Gifford’s Law Center. “Gangs” include everything from juvenile gangs, biker gangs, organized crime syndicates, and even drug cartel activity. Statistics are difficult to come by due to the lack of accounting requirements for law enforcement precincts throughout the country; however, estimates show that about 25% of all gun-related homicides (about 3,636 murders) are committed by gangs during the course of criminal activity, according to data provided by the CDC.
If we subtract domestic violence and gang-related murder from the homicide total, we are left with about 10,306 gun-related murders nation-wide bringing the likelihood of being randomly murdered with a gun to 0.0032%. For reference, The National Weather Service says the likelihood of you being struck by lightning at some point in your life is 1 in 15,300 or about 0.0065%. Did you know that you are more likely to be struck by lightning in your lifetime than be randomly murdered with a gun in any given year?
While 10,306 random gun murders isn’t a success story, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud. Violent crime, including random murder, has been on a decline since the early 1990s. Unfortunately, what is increasing is the suicide rate. Since suicide accounts for 60% of all gun-related deaths and 51% of all suicides are committed using a firearm, this is where we can make the biggest difference when it comes to gun violence. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or text “HOME” to 741741.