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Conflict & Tragedy

Gun deaths on rise, but in Colorado and Missouri they just don't get it

Two Colorado senators lost their political seats a few days ago because they were in favor of tougher gun controls. That’s despite the Colorado theater massacre last year that left 12 dead and 70 wounded.

On the same day in Missouri, a senatorial vote fell one ballot short of nullifying federal gun laws in the state. If the vote had passed, it would have allowed residents to arrest federal officers if they tried to confiscate a weapon such as a machine gun, which is illegal under federal regulations.

What is going on in the United States?

It was just this past January, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings where 20 children and six adults died, that a Gallup poll showed 91 percent of those asked were in favor of background checks for all gun sales.

Are memories so short?

A study released by the Violence Policy Center in May showed that Americans were being killed by guns in greater numbers than in traffic fatalities in 12 states and the District of Columbia.

In 2012, a Bloomberg study based on solid data showed that death by gunshot will exceed traffic fatalities as the leading cause of non-medical death across the nation by 2015.

The numbers are chilling – it is forecast that two years from now, there will be 33,000 deaths attributed to guns, while 32,000 will die in automobile crashes.

The figures were compiled by Bloomberg News using data provided by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is based on a 10-year trend of traffic and gun death statistics.

The pro-gun lobby makes the argument that gun deaths are down.

They often point to a study by the Pew Research Center based on government figures that shows there were 49 percent fewer gun deaths in 2010 than in 1993.

But what the gun advocates fail to mention is that after a period of decline where 28,393 victims fell to the guns in 2000, gun deaths by suicide, accident and homicide began to increase again during the decade.

In 1993, gun deaths peaked at 37,666. However, by 2010, the total had risen to 31,328 from that low point in 2000. That’s an increase of 2,935, or eight more victims a day.

Based on the rising rate, the Bloomberg study – released in December 2012 – predicted there would be 32,929 firearm deaths in 2015, while traffic deaths are estimated to reach 32,036 in the same year.

It will mark the first time in history that gun deaths will surge past motor vehicle fatalities in the US.

And 2012 marked a new high in another area of gun use – mass murders.

“We haven’t had a year like 2012 for mass shooting before, with each one more disturbing that the last,” Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Gun Policy and Research, told Bloomberg. “It’s harder to chalk this up to random acts than to flaws in our gun laws.”

Many Americans agreed, based on that January Gallup poll.

About 85 Americans die every day by the gun and the Bloomberg report said that while it is difficult to pinpoint gun-ownership figures, eight years ago a survey pegged it at about 300 million.

Yet in the face of insurmountable evidence, there are people who still don’t get the message that tougher gun control laws are necessary.

Jesus wept.

Sources:

Violence Policy Center study: http://www.vpc.org/studies/gunsvscars13.pdf

CTV News: Colorado theater massacre: http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/a-year-after-movie-theatre-massacre-colorado-looks-to-heal-1.1375704

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html

Bloomberg News study: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-19/american-gun-deaths-to-exceed-traffic-fatalities-by-2015.html

Pew Research: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/05/07/gun-homicide-rate-down-49-since-1993-peak-public-unaware/

Gallup poll: http://www.gallup.com/poll/160085/americans-back-obama-proposals-address-gun-violence.aspx

Reuters Colorado recall: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/11/us-usa-colorado-election-idUSBRE98A06I20130911

CNN Missouri vote: http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/11/us/missouri-gun-laws-challenge/