The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday issued a report on the recent jump in the rate of gun killings in the United States, which increased by a third between 2019 and 2020, from 4.6 to 6.1 per 100,000 population. IN articlewhich was published in the CDC’s Morbidity and mortality weekly Reportnotes that ‘several explanations have been proposed’, including increased stressors (eg economic, social and psychological) and disruptions in health, social and emergency services during the COVID-19 pandemic; tensions between law enforcement and the community are reflected in protests against the use of lethal force by law enforcement; increasing purchases of firearms; and intimate partner violence.
New York Times predictably plays out this fleeting mention of “increased firearms purchases.” The increase in gun killings, times he says“Corresponds to the accelerated sales of firearms as the pandemic spreads and blockade becomes the norm.” IN times explains that “Americans started buying weapons in 2020, which continued into 2021,” although sales have since returned to normal. It cites an estimate by gun researcher Garen Wintemut that “approximately 15 million more weapons remain in circulation than would exist without the pandemic.”
In 2017, according to Study of small arms, American civilians own more than 393 million firearms. Shopping in 2018 and 2019 added about 27 million cannons to this stockpile of weapons. If sales in 2020 were similar to sales in the previous two years, they would add another 13 million. Assuming Wintemute’s assessment is in the right position, “buying weapons” is worrying. times represents an additional increase of about 3.5 percent. Although times reporters Ronnie Karin Rabin and seem to think this is a plausible explanation for the 33 percent increase in the rate of gun killings, it is not clear why.
It is clearly not true that more weapons in circulation automatically lead to more killings. The number of weapons owned by Americans has been steadily rising throughout the period, beginning in the early 1990s, when the homicide rate in the United States fell sharply, a downward trend that has only weakened recently. As the CDC notes, the reasons for the jump in 2020 are unclearalthough it is widely believed that the mass disturbances associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have something to do with it.
Is there any evidence that Americans who purchased these “additional” weapons in 2020 and early 2021 were particularly vulnerable to violence? As the numbers are based on FBI checks on gun buyers who exclude anyone with a criminal record, this assumption seems questionable.
It can be argued that the unusually high percentage of first time buyers of weapons during the pandemic increased the risk of mishandling by inexperienced, untrained owners, which could lead to more accidents. But the CDC counted only 535 accidental firearm deaths in 2020, compared with 486 in 2019. There are about 24,300 suicides committed with weapons in 2020, compared to about 24,000 in 2019 and about 19,400. homicides, compared to about 19 40 homicides, compared to about 9 homicides. is astounding and probably is times tries to explain when he celebrates “buying weapons” during the pandemic.
Perhaps these neophyte gun owners were particularly careless in storing their weapons, which could increase the risk of theft by increasing the supplies available to criminals. But with more than 400 million firearms already in circulation, the impact would be negligible.
Perhaps Rabin and Arango are imagining new owners of non-criminal weapons who get into disputes that turn deadly because they had firearms. Although they do not cite any evidence of the threat that newly armed men pose to others, they suggest that gun buyers are endangering themselves. “The main reason people give up to buy a gun is self-defense,” they wrote. “But research published in the 1990s found that carrying a gun at home alone tripled the risk of killing a gun and increasing the risk of suicide by a factor of five.
If it is “found” that “owning a weapon at home” doubles the risk of suicide, you would expect that “buying a weapon” will have a noticeable impact on suicide. And yet the CDC reports that “the overall rate of suicides with firearms remains almost equal between 2019 and 2020” – a fact that should have given Rabin and Arango a break.
When it comes to murders, Rabin and Arango do not specify the “research” they are referring to, but they are probably talking about a lot of quoted and much criticized 1993 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. In this study, Arthur Kellerman, then director of the Center for Injury Control at Emory University, and his co-authors reported that “keeping a gun at home is strong and independently associated with an increased risk of murder.” In particular, the risk factor is 2.7, which leads to popular gloss that “keeping a gun at home almost triples the likelihood that someone in the household will be killed there.” Kellermann et al. concluded that “people should be strongly discouraged from keeping guns in their homes”, suggesting that the practice was clearly reckless.
“The study has many shortcomings,” The reasonis Brian Doherty noted in a review of the 2016 Weapons Survey. (Significantly less than the national average in 1993 of about 71 percent). And even in these cases, he failed to establish that the gun owners were killed with their own own pistols. If not even a small percentage of them, given that more than half of the murders were swimming committed with weapons, the causal link between the injured gun owners is far less clear. “
There were several other factors more strongly connected at risk of murder in Kellerman’s study. The risk factor is 5.7 for illicit drug use, 4.4 for living in rented accommodation and 3.7 for loneliness, for example. However, you do not often hear warnings that renting an apartment or house more than four times increases the risk of someone being killed in your home, probably because people would immediately recognize the dangers of drawing a causal conclusion from this relationship.
Is the causal conclusion more plausible when it comes to gun ownership? Maybe not, especially since people can buy guns precisely because they face an unusually high risk of violence.
Kellermann et al. compared their “cases” (homes where a resident was killed) with “controls” based on gender, race, age range and neighborhood. They adjusted for four potentially confusing variables: whether the home was rented and housed an illegal drug user, a person with previous arrests, or someone “who was hit or injured in a home battle.” But factors the researchers did not take into account, such as vindictive ex-boyfriends or other potentially violent people with malice, could make residents more likely to own guns and be killed.
“The main reason for the research on this topic is unconvincing,” said Justin Monticello of Reason TV notes, is that “the answer depends almost entirely on individual differences that cannot be easily controlled in the social sciences.” As statistician Aaron Brown told Monticello, “a gun expert with a gun safe in a high-crime neighborhood may be safer with a gun,” while a “careless alcoholic living in a low-crime area” keeps loaded weapons in his children. “The wardrobe will certainly be less secure.”
Despite all these concerns, Rabin and Arango argue that Kellerman’s study “found that simply having a gun in the home increases the risk of a three-gun homicide gun.” They carelessly point to a causal link that the study does not prove, carelessly dismissing the millions of Americans who buy guns in self-defense as deluded idiots. According to timesscience has “established” that it is reckless to keep a gun in a self-defense home that the Supreme Court has recognized as the “core” of the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
In particular, the study cited by times, as much of Kellerman ‘s research is funded by the CDC. The agency’s involvement in promoting arms control provoked a 1997 congressional ban on such subsidies, which was not lifted until 2018. Now that the CDC is back insight into this areathe agency’s director, Rochelle Valensky, was careful to avoid further controversy by rejecting a political or political agenda. “I’m not here for gun control,” she said he said CNN last August. “I am here to prevent gun violence and death from firearms.”
The CDC’s report on gun killings reflects Valenski’s caution. “The findings of this study,” the authors say, “emphasize the importance of comprehensive strategies that can end violence now and in the future by addressing factors that contribute to homicides and suicides, including major economic, physical and social inequalities that racial and ethnic differences in many health outcomes. “They mention” policies that improve economic and household stability “,” locally oriented approaches that address the physical and social environment that contributes to violence and other injustices “, and “Prevention strategies” that focus on the populations at greatest risk and rates of violence. “
The only references to arms control policies include “laws to prevent the access of children”, which criminalize “Negligent” possession of firearms in various circumstances and “laws preventing the possession of firearms by persons subject to restraining orders for domestic violence.” Given the consequences of treating gun violence as a “public health” problem, which pseudo-scientific cover on the Biden administration’s arms control agenda, the CDC could still venture into more controversial areas. No doubt New York Times he wants it to be so.