Firearms Data — To Dangerous to Handle?

It’s a tool, not a monster

ArsTechnica recently published a short article, that is a logical, non-hysterical case to treat *gun-storage* as a pivot point to reduce gun related suicides.

The article focuses on Matthew Miller’s observations on firearm safety and suicide, that are backed up by data, and not speculation. It is one of the first conversations on the topic I’ve seen finally addressing that there is no difference in suicide rates in rifle & handgun ownership/proximity, as well as point of sale intervention has little impact. The larger point is a good one:

Until we started to treat drunk driving as a public health problem Designated Drivers, key bowls, and awareness in general, did not exist in such a density to effect the problem. Once addressed /professed / encouraged, it became a social norm. As a result, fatalities dropped.

Responsible firearm owners practice proper gun safety. However, there are WAY too many people that are a bit too caviler or are simply ignorant. If there is a chance that we could drive down firearm related suicide by more than two-thirds (or frankly fringe, yet horrific, gun violence such as Sandy Hook) by upping our game on storage awareness, I think it would be worth it. Just allowing access to gun locks isn’t enough — and that is clear.

To put that into numbers: There were about 20,000 gun suicides last year. Once a week a toddler shoots someone with an unsecured weapon. In one county in Florida, over 400 firearms were stolen — 60% of those from *unlocked* cars, outside of criminal infractions with those weapons, nearly 100 of those weapons were used to in suicide attempts / involved in avoidable injuries.

Here is one that blurs moral boundaries: There where approximately 18,000 “late term abortions” in 2016, there were a little over 15,000–18,000 gun related deaths *outside* of suicide last year.

We are at a “put your money where your mouth is” point for the NRA and the representatives that take their money. The Senate, House, and White House are all “Second Amendment Friendly.” A time limited (2 year) funding of the CDC to explore positive impacts from developing a Fatality Analysis Reporting system (FARS) like that used by the NHTSA to track automobile fatalities and their correlation to make / model / use / features — specifically centered on storage, to impede firearm use in suicide — could make a serious impact.

Right now, for political reasons, there is no rationalized impartial data on gun fatalities or injuries. We are literally burying our heads in the sand for fear of the answers OR the manipulation of the data.

This directly contributes to the *ridiculous* statistical tug of war between the two extreme viewpoints on Second Amendment rights and its lawful codification. This stance does help drive membership in both the NRA and The Brady Campaign/CSGV — I’m not sure that is money well spent, and I know that both sides manipulate the data that is collected, and have been caught red handed doing it.

Me personally, I want a solid point of data to reference the similar data about firearm injuries that I can reference about cars. For example: Number of injuries from non-external safeties. Striker-fired malfunctions vs hammer fired. Ammunition brand correlation to injuries, brand/manufacturer to injury rates normalized for sales rate — etc. etc. The collect of this data does not impede our Second Amendments rights what-so-ever, nor should it be allowed to be used as a tool to do so.

There is a ton of good solid usage for data transparency in gun safety. If codified correctly, it could be an excellent tool for a variety of people — not to mention save lives.

Some folks simply can’t get out of their mental mold here — it’s always the slippery slope. Others would immediately try to manipulate the data or accelerate a restrictive regulation without proper, sustained correlation. THESE are the people/organizations that are fueling the status quo. These are the people that make it so “we can’t have nice things.” These are the people that we need to STOP sending to represent us.