Letters to the Editor

Gun rights supporter’s statistics are misleading | Letter to the Editor

Last week, my friend Gregg Rocheford published a letter citing some often-quoted statistics about gun violence. The relatively low number of rifle murders as opposed to blunt objects, knives, etc. is really quite striking, but only if one assumes that “rifle” includes all homicides using firearms. I believe that this is the assumption that advocates of less gun regulation want you to make. When you include homicides by handguns, the picture looks entirely different.

My figures are from 2009 per the U.S. Census (from the FBI as well), so don’t correspond exactly with the FBI statistics he quotes from 2011, but are roughly similar: Murders by rifles — 352, by blunt objects — 623, hands, fists, etc., — 815, knives —1,836, handguns — 6,503, shotguns and other unspecified guns — 2,348. In all, the number of firearm murders, at 9,203, is almost double the number of murders by all other weapons combined. You can check these statistics here: www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0310.pdf

He also notes the clearly high lethality of motor vehicles. With the number of vehicles on the road and the number of bikers and pedestrians exposed to them, it is a wonder that the numbers aren’t worse than they are. According the Centers For Disease Control, between 1968 and 1991, vehicle deaths went down 21 percent while firearm deaths went up 60 percent. The decrease in vehicle fatalities is attributed to stricter regulation of traffic, vehicle and road design and education. Firearm fatalities might also drop with some application of the same.

— Terry Sullivan

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