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(171,032 posts)
Sun Jan 27, 2013, 01:41 PM Jan 2013

NYT: What We Donít Know Is Killing Us


What We Don’t Know Is Killing Us
Published: January 26, 2013

In one of the 23 executive orders on gun control signed this month, President Obama instructed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal science agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence. He called on Congress to aid that effort by providing $10 million for the C.D.C. in the next budget round and $20 million to expand the federal reporting system on violent deaths to all 50 states, from the current 18.

That Mr. Obama had to make such a decree at all is a measure of the power of the gun lobby, which has effectively shut down government-financed research on gun violence for 17 years. Research on guns is crucial to any long-term effort to reduce death from guns. In other words, treat gun violence as a public health issue.

But that is precisely what the National Rifle Association and other opponents of firearms regulation do not want. In the absence of reliable data and data-driven policy recommendations, talk about guns inevitably lurches into the unknown, allowing abstractions, propaganda and ideology to fill the void and thwart change.


But we need more data to formulate, analyze and evaluate policy to focus on what works and to refine or reject what does not. How many guns are stolen? How do guns first get diverted into illegal hands? How many murderers would have passed today’s background checks? What percentage of criminal gun traces are accounted for by, say, the top 5 percent of gun dealers? How many households possess firearms: is it one-third as some surveys suggest, or one-half?

The gun lobby is likely to claim that any federally financed gun research, per se, is banned by law, a charge that would force debate of whether evidence-based policy recommendations are tantamount to lobbying. Or the C.D.C. may choose to focus on data collection and leave the policy recommendations to outside researchers. That would be a sorry situation for government scientists, but an improvement over the status quo.

It is obvious that gun violence is a public health threat. A letter this month to Vice President Joseph Biden Jr.’s gun violence commission from more than 100 researchers in public health and related fields pointed out that mortality rates from almost every major cause of death have declined drastically over the past half century. Motor vehicle deaths per mile driven in America have fallen by more than 80 percent. But the homicide rate in the United States, driven by guns, is almost exactly the same as it was in 1950.
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(37,305 posts)
2. Maybe the homicide rate is the same because you can't change people.
Sun Jan 27, 2013, 01:46 PM
Jan 2013

You can fix a car or other hazards, but human emotion is what it is and we are unfixable.

Schema Thing

(10,283 posts)
3. horseshit.
Sun Jan 27, 2013, 01:58 PM
Jan 2013

You can most definitely change people.

As well, you can "fix" guns and you can "fix" ammo supply... so what the fuck would even be your point there?

Get the fuck off of a progressive website if you think otherwise, because you.are.trolling.


(4,820 posts)
4. I guess there is just no way we could fix the "gun" like you can fix a car?
Sun Jan 27, 2013, 01:58 PM
Jan 2013

Here's just one idea: All guns will be fit with a trigger that has to be activated three times before the weapon will fire. Could save about 372 kids' lives per year.

Just saying.



(37,305 posts)
5. I really wonder. Kids shouldn't be playing with guns period.
Sun Jan 27, 2013, 02:05 PM
Jan 2013

But in general they are smart enough to pull it 3 times if that was what they were trying to do.


(53,521 posts)
6. That is Right Wing ideological BS.
Sun Jan 27, 2013, 02:09 PM
Jan 2013

The Right has been pushing biological-determinist 'Evolutionary Psychology" for many years now to justify racism, sexism, and war via the "it's human nature and you can't change human nature" shit.

Humans are not "inherently" violent. In fact the popular notion that one needs to "let of steam" is actually bad, it actually makes you more likely to be violent.


(17,493 posts)
7. If the homicide rate is "almost exactly the same as it was in 1950" ...
Sun Jan 27, 2013, 04:41 PM
Jan 2013

then it is improving.

Homicide rates have dropped steadily in U.S.
By Neely Tucker,December 19, 2012


The national homicide rate for 2011 was 4.8 per 100,000 citizens — less than half of what it was in the early years of the Great Depression, when it peaked before falling precipitously before World War II. The peak in modern times of 10.2 was in 1980, as recorded by national criminal statistics.

“We’re at as low a place as we’ve been in the past 100 years,” says Randolph Roth, professor of history at Ohio State University and author of this year’s “American Homicide,” a landmark study of the history of killing in the United States. “The rate oscillates between about 5 and 9 [per 100,000], sometimes a little higher or lower, and we’re right at the bottom end of that oscillation.”...emphasis added

Last year’s rate was the lowest of any year since 1963, when the rate was 4.6, according to the Uniform Crime Reports compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Don’t relax quite yet: Americans still kill one another at a much higher rate than do citizens of other wealthy nations.

“By international standards, we never really get to ‘low,’?” Roth says.

When I watch the news I get the impression that the level of violence is increasing dramatically and I suspect this has many people to buy firearms for home protection. Perhaps if the news media publicized the fact that our society is actually becoming safer, fewer firearms would be sold.

There is absolutely no doubt that firearms are extremely lethal and should never be in the hands of a person who has been drinking excessively. Also when a person is suffering from depression a firearm in the home can lead to suicide. If a person choses to try to commit suicide by taking a large quantity of drugs it is quite possible that another person will discover him and a trip to the emergency ward may save his life. A firearm used for suicide is far less forgiving.

I grew up in the 50s and the 60s. The only people I knew who owned firearms used them for hunting or informal target shooting. I didn't know one person who felt a need to have a firearm in his home for defense.

I think two main groups are driving the perception that we live in extremely violent times in our nation.

Obviously the NRA and gun manufacturers hope to increase membership and the sale of firearms. They push the idea that a firearm in your home or on your person, if you can legally carry, is wise and might save your life or the lives of those you love. The NRA also promotes distrust of the government and suggests that patriotic citizens should be ready to resist a dictator or tyrant.

The main stream media has long sought to impose strong gun control on the citizens of our nation. It pitches the idea that we live in extremely violent times and the solution is to ban first "assault weapons" and eventually all semi-auto firearms.

As a result many citizens have a tremendous fear of a home invasion or being mugged on the street. When politicians push for stronger gun control laws they fear bans and confiscations and decide that they might truly need a firearm in the future but if they wait they will be unable to boy one.

You would think that in a society with a dropping level of violence, gun sales would also be decreasing. If the realistic chances of needing a firearm for self defense is low then it would be reasonable for people to use their disposable income on more important items. The fact that this is not happening shows how effective the propaganda we see and read actually is.


(55,745 posts)
8. Conservatives rule.
Sun Jan 27, 2013, 06:55 PM
Jan 2013

The tobacco companies kept the research on their product's link to cancer secret for decades -- killing untold millions in the process. Not a single executive went to jail, not that it was a criminal conspiracy or anything.

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