Firearm Casualty Reports
Resolving conflicts on Gun Rights and Gun Control could save lives. Does that matter in the USA?
Firearm Casualty Report, 2022
|Created: Sept 2015|
|Modified: Jan, 2022|
Even more than for COVID, the USA's gun-control laws confront irresolvable political conflicts on how much protecting lives should restrict liberty. Meanwhile deaths continue to rise, despite the Supreme Court's 2008 Heller Decision making it abundantly clear that the legislative, executive, and lobbying groups all have a civil duty to further limit firearm casualties.
Although lethality is the proud objective of virtually all gun design, when people are shot they sometimes take a while to die from it. The criminal investigations take even longer. Hence it takes a year to two for the numbers to be available.
The CDC Wonder Database now reports2020 was the most severe year of firearm fatalities ever, with a 14% increase over the prior year, an increase of an order of magnitude over the Obama administration years.
The picture on the right shows the result of a query to CDC's Wonder database. The same database also provides a different number for homicides than the FBI. The difference is because doctors sometimes define deaths as 'unintentional homicides' without need of verification by the Department of Justice. I include the difference betwween of the CDC and FBI numbers as 'lethal accidents' in my reports. in my spreadsheets and charts.
The Demon Ain't Just Outside No More
The FBI hasn't got to 2020 yet. For 2019, it has reported that homicides by killers known to the victim increased to 48.9%, confirming my statistical and reasoned predictions from 2016, drawn from concern about the continued neglect of domestic violence compared to non-felonious crime (see the FBI'sExpanded Homicide Report). This primarily stems from John Lott's popular 1998 book 'More Guns, Less Crime,' which totally ignores deaths from domestic violence, personal disputes, suicide, and accidents. Instead it regards all gun violence as caused by anonymous thieves and other such miscreants. That claim is just plain wrong. the following chart, from FBI data, shows that robberies by strangers accounted for a whopping 6% of all unjustified homiocides. Similarly the NRA blames narcotics crime as a major factor by deliberately choosing small regions where it is more common, despite its even tinier contribution to the problem. And since 2017, the ratio of homicides by families and friends to strangers has only increased steadily.
The NRA's hate propaganda is still provoking the problem, as shown in the 'demons at the door' ad it is still running, even while the lawsuit against LaPierre for corruption continues (now indicting his wife also, see this news report). Such petulances aside, details on the FBI's homicide breakout for 2020 will make for a rather powerful journal article.
Stats and Costs
Perhaps the most the most astounding fact about gun safety and control is how little the USA spends on it, compared to other calamities with similar death rates. For example, in January 2021 President Biden justified $1.4 trillion more federal spending on COVID by starting it killed more U.S. citizens than World War 1. Briefly thereafter, he remarked how the death toll had risen to more than both world wars and Vietnam combined. Yet since the Supreme Court's 2008 Heller decision defined limited rights to bear arms in self-defense,firearm fatalities in the USA havealready mounted to exceed all U.S. deaths in World War 2; and in 2023, firearm fatalities will exceed U.S. deaths from both World Wars put together too. Yet even so, Congress invests virtually nothing in reducing firearm fatalities. Any gun-control legislation that actually passes both House and Senate faces endless legal challenges. The President is forced into short-lived Executive Orders, virtually all of which are also disputed in the courts.
My own estimate of the taxpayer burden for firearam casualties is the most conservative ever published. It places the cost at $34 per gun per year.
The NRA originally supported Federal and State gun regulations, until theNew York Times published on Kellerman's research, "Gun in Home? Study Finds It a Deadly Mix" (October 7, 1993). In the decades since then, the NRA has increasingly fought gun control in court. Now the NRA fights every single legislation attempt by individual States too, to such an extent most people have forgotten the NRA originally paid for the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) in an effort to reduce crime. The NRA's policy reversals have lad people to scorn the NRA's support of NICS as an attempt to boost gun sales via acceleration of access, with contempt for lives lost. The scorn may be justifiable as the NRA has objected to all efforts to improve NICS efficacy.
Meanwhile, despite lawmakers' attempts at the federal and state levels to restrict dangerous gun ownership, and despite efforts to take evermore dangerous firearm products off the market, fatalities have continued to increase at the same steady rate of 2.3% annually. After adjusting for population growth, the rate is still increasing at 1.5%, and at the current rate of change, annual gun deaths won't even start going down for 50 years.
The FBI and CDC spreadsheet data for the above extrapolations are shown below, and I will provide the spreadsheet to anyone asking for it.
The Heller Amendment
Many citizens vehemently attack or defend the 2nd Amendment as some kind of 'blank check' to own guns. Very few have got as far as understanding what Constitutional rights to guns actually exist now. The 2008 Heller decision explicitly extended the 2nd Amendment to grantlimited rights to arms for self-defense. Immature debates on absolutist interpretations abound while people continue to die wrongfully.
The 2nd Amendment (2A) itself doesn't directly define rights to arms for self defense. However, the Heller decision distinctly confirmed that right, just as the Founding Fathers intended so, in accordance with Locke's theory ofstate of nature. While one might be led to believe that would result in more interest in the rationale for the decision, it hasn't, for reasons discussed later. Here is the Heller decision's first paragraph:
The Heller decisionalso specifically stated that the right to bear arms is not unlimited, in its 2nd paragraph. The 2nd paragraph is astonishingly ignored by '2A' advocates, whereas anti-gun groups and legislators (including the House of Congress Majority Leader, Nancy Pelosi) now unilaterally endorse banning guns entirely, ignoring the Heller decision entirely, even though the hope for such an outcome is completely inane.
This Supreme Court decision considers limits in exactly the order of the number of deaths each limitation would reduce. First it mentions limitations on the rights of the mentally ill to own guns, because suicide is the leading cause of firearm fatality. Then it mentions use of guns by felons, and the marketing of evermore lethal weapons. CDC and FBI data confirms these priorities are still applicable in 2021, but at the current rate of improvement, firearm fatalities will not even be flat for half a century.
Limitations on gun ownership by the mentally ill are dogged by privacy rights, and efforts in that direction have made no progress at all. The Supreme Court also has not stated how much the government should restrict gun purchase or ownership by felons, leading to interminable reversals of opinions in expensive and largely misunderstood lawsuits.
The Rand Corporation reports that waiting periods have caused the greatest reduction in firearm fatalities, and that stand-your-ground laws have caused the greatest increase. Yet despite the undenability of the rather thorough research, the NRA stated during the Trump administration that it would seek to block every single gun-control lawand has done so. It and other pro-gun groups exhibit no concern at all for the lost lives, despite their actions being in direct contradiction of the Heller decision which they frequently adulate as defending their position. From a rational and legal standpoint, nonetheless, atand-your-ground laws should be further restrained, and the inadequacies of the NICS system indicate that it should still require a waiting period.
Disinterest in The Founding Fathers Intent
While working on this topic for the last six years, I naively assumed people were ready to consider issues arising from promulgation of authority from natural rights to Constitutional rights. What I actually witness is ongoing arguments about the last four words of the 2nd Amendment, 'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.' All 27 words already exceed the capacity of virtually all Americans for rational argument. As things are, it's absurd to expect that America as a nation could ever understand Locke's argument from astate of nature, derived from the natural law described on this site.
With reference to firearms, the framer's original intent was as follows. Without restriction by government, some people violate the naturalstate of nature with aggression, which interferes with judgment by a just and loving God in the afterlife. Therefore government has authorities to restrict liberties, but itself cannot restrict liberties more than those defined by Constitutional Rights. Authority forcommon law promulgates fromConstitutional Law; for which authority promulgates from the Natural Rights defined byNatural Law; for which authority intself promulgates from God. Under such promulgation, all efforts should be made to protect life while permitting self defense.
However, in modern times, there is no promulgation of authority via natural rights to Constitutional Rights any more. Instead, the USA has adopted a view oflegal positivism. According to legal positivists such as Austin and Hart, law is simply right because it says so, and needs no other authority but its own history. That means, when new problems such as mass shooters appear, there is no precedent for the government reaction. All such events simply widen the partisan divide. According to the Framers, the NRA and other parties would all want to save life too; but there are no longer any shared ideals as those which led to the framing of the U.S.A's natural rights.
President Obama quoted the second 5,000-word letter I sent him (the first was on the Lockean interpreatation of natural rights, which he had not heard about before). He very kindly started the speech 'earnestly,' as you will hear. The portion of my letter he quoted starts 'dead people had rights too' from 27m:45s to 29m:00s. The quote is only 90 seconds, but is quite famous, because he broke into tears while quoting me. Of course, NRA fans called them 'crocodile tears,' but even so, it's one of the rare times a President cried on TV, a rare honor indeed!
Firearm Casualties and Solutions (Sept 2016) - This report was considered by the US House Oversight and Reform committee, resulting in the HR5103 'Gun Violence Tax Bill.' However, due to pressure from Sandy Hook Promise, the House bill used the vastly inflated gun-violence cost estimate fromMother Jones (Miller, 2015; link inside the report's references). The bill and was promptly thrown out. The report provides detailed research and analysis of the questions:
- Does the NRA solution work?
- Are fatalities falling?
- Who is killing whom?
- How well does self defense work?
- Can gun control reduce fatalities and suicide?
- Do more guns mean less crime?
- How many illegal guns are there?
- How much do taxpayers pay for gun violence?
- What new solutions could reduce the casualties?
- Who exactly is dead, who will die next, and what would really make a difference?
The Benthamite Amendment (May 2020) - This is an 'ideal solution' that is impossible in the current political environment. It proposes a gun-violence excise-tax, revenue from which would subsidize gun-violence costs, as well as first-gun purchases by low-income households, either from inventories of prior federal gun-buyback programs, or from gun manufacturers. Mandatory safety training is also recommended. This Amendment includes substantiating data, enhancements from NRA representatives; cost projections from a decade of CDC and DoJ data; and peer review of gun-safety analysis.'
Third Eyes on Guns and Hate Propaganda - A blog describing the bizarre beliefs of the new Tea Partyy arising from NRA hate propaganda, with a historical and psychological explanation of how hate propaganda works. After sending this to John Oliver one Tuesday, he worked all week on a show deriding 'NRA TV,' appearing the on National TV the following Sunday. Johh Oliver agreed with this article's conclusion, also in my brief cover letter, that 'humor is the best possible way to counter NRA's hate propaganda.' the 'NRA TV' channel has since been taken off the air, and the spokesperson, Wayne LaPierre, has been demoted.
Natural Rights, Gun Rights, and Legal Rights (Jan 2015) starts "Natural law provides very clear answers on the gun rights versus gun control debate. But natural law, as it is invoked in USA's declaration of independence, requires accepting the existence of God, so natural law cannot be taught in American public schools. As a result, 99.9% of Americans on both 'sides' of the gun debate have opinions of the derived constitution that are very flawed. Here is a primer on natural law, and how it applies to gun liberties." In 2015, almost a dozen Constitutional Lawyers and professors reviewed with interest, including President Obama. It resulted in the State Supreme Courts approving city gun-violence taxes in Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles.
Are Guns more Dangerous to Owners than Criminals - New findings are presented showing that a gun in the home increases risks of residents being shot to death by 3~4 orders of magnitude more than it is likely to stop a crime. Also, during attempts of self defense, 2 out of 3 firearm fatalities are accidental killings of family or friends, rather than of criminal aggressors. Additional data on domestic violence is presented. Peer reviewed by Dr. G. Wintemute, M.D., M.P.H., Professor, Emergency Medicine (UC Davis, CA); Director, Violence Prevention Research Program.
The Reason for my InvolvementMost people prefer not to consider the reason for delays in firearm casualty numbers, instead regarding the data with the same dispassionate aloof they might accord to criticisms of violence in Tom and Jerry cartoons. I've been waiting for the numbers every year since 2015, when over a hundred members of the 'New Tea Party' told me they would shoot a person for stealing apples from a back-yard appletree, without looking who was stealing apples first. So I asked, what if it were a child that they were shooting?
Then Tea Party attorneys started sending me annoyed letters that I was upsetting their clients with the question, claiming their clients had every right to shoot an intruder without first looking if it was a child. They proudly cited the 'Castle Doctrine' as justification. Upon research, I found their view of the Castle Doctrine is derived from a completely fallacious interpretation of Locke's "Treatises of Government" from 1689. Therein Locke does provide grounds for killing in self defense, based on rational deductions of 'Natural Law.' However, the Castle Doctrine totally ignores that Locke then states the horror of killing in self defense is akin to a King immolating his own daughter in a sacrifice to God for success in war. Clearly that implies at least some restraint is due before gleefully killing 9-year-old apple thieves. But the Tea Party attorneys remained totally impervious to any intimation that their interpretation of the Castle Doctrine might actually be wrong. At first I thought this was an oddity but it's become undeniable that about a third of USA's population is similarly callous to the value of human life, if they think about it at all when talking about their rights to kill.
So I found myself inextricably drawn in to this horrifyingly divided issue. For seven years now, while waiting for the data every year, I inevitably think about the people who don't die right away from gunshot wounds yet again, who could well be children stealing appes or whatever. Anyway, enough of an explanation. Time to work more on the statistics people prefer to think about instead...