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We need the facts about U.S. gun violence — and we need them now

“In America, gun violence kills twice as many children as cancer, and yet political grandstanding has halted funding for public health research to understand this crisis,” Sen. Ed Markey.

Each year, guns kill an estimated 31,000 Americans and injure another 71,000.

Those numbers alone makes gun violence a major public health issue.

Yet, unlike other public health issues facing the country, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, motor vehicle accidents and prescription drug abuse, gun violence is not permitted to be studied by the agency whose mission it is to protect the nation’s health and safety: the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Congress cut off CDC funding for such research in 1996, due in large part to an agency-sponsored study on gun homicides that had been published a few years earlier. The study had found that having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance, even after adjusting for factors such as households with illicit-drug users or with people who had criminal records.

In other words, having a gun in your home was much more likely to harm than protect you and your family.

Some politicians — mostly Republicans — were infuriated with the study’s results.

So, instead of allocating more money to figure out ways of preventing those gun-related deaths, they closed down the research completely.


Needed: good data

Last week, before the tragic shootings in Isla Vista, California, legislation was introduced in Congress that would provide the CDC with $10 million annually to restart its long-dormant research efforts on gun-violence prevention.

“In America, gun violence kills twice as many children as cancer, and yet political grandstanding has halted funding for public health research to understand this crisis,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass), the Senate’s lead sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.

The bill is supported by a long list of organizations, including many that represent physicians, such as the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“The dearth of gun violence research has contributed to the lack of meaningful progress in reducing firearm injuries,” the organizations wrote in a letter to Congress last summer.

The organizations also pointed out that the U.S. rate of gun deaths is likely to surpass the country’s rate of motor vehicle accident-related deaths within the next two years. In fact, in some states — Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Oregon — it already has.

Why research is essential

Without good research data, we can’t possibly have an informed discussion about what to do about gun violence.

And we no longer have good data, as reporter Lois Beckett discusses in an article published by ProPublica earlier this month. As she explains, we don’t even know for sure the most basic of gun-violence facts, such as how many Americans have been shot over the past 10 years, or if that number has gone up or down during that period.

Writes Beckett:

The government’s own numbers seem to conflict. One source of data on shooting victims suggests that gun-related violence has been declining for years, while another government estimate actually shows an increase in the number of people who have been shot. Each estimate is based on limited, incomplete data. Not even the FBI tracks the total number of nonfatal gunshot wounds.

“We know how many people die, but not how many are injured and survive,” said Dr. Demetrios Demetriades, a Los Angeles trauma surgeon who has been studying nationwide gunshot injury trends.

While the number of gun murders has decreased in recent years, there’s debate over whether this reflects a drop in the total number of shootings, or an improvement in how many lives emergency room doctors can save.

Injuries worsening

One recent study that analyzed data about gunshot-wound patients who were treated at a single Newark, N.J., hospital from 2000 to 2011 found that the overall number of patients injured by guns had remained steady, but that the patients’ wounds were getting more numerous and more serious.

“The percentage of patients who came in with multiple bullet wounds had increased from only 10 percent in 2011 to 23 percent in 2011,” writes Beckett. “The incidence of brain and spinal cord injuries almost doubled.”

In addition, the death rate for gunshot-wound patients actually increased at that Newark hospital during the period studied, from 9 percent to 14 percent.

But, of course, that’s a small single-institution study, and its findings may or may not be reflective of what’s going on across the country.

And that’s why we need a national approach — through the CDC and also, of course, the National Institutes of Health — to tracking and researching firearm violence.

As Beckett notes in her article, a campaign by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to gather research on highway vehicle accidents is credited with helping to reduce the number of U.S. deaths from car crashes by more than one-third over the past 20 years.

It’s time — long past time — we had a similar campaign to reduce the number of deaths from guns.

Keeping ourselves in the dark about gun violence will do nothing to reduce those deaths. It will only keep us ignorant.

As Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), one of the few congressional Republicans who has expressed a willingness to support CDC funding of gun-violence research, told a TV reporter last year: “Let’s let the data lead rather than our political opinions.”

You can read Beckett’s article on ProPublica’s website. It is part of the organizaiton’s ongoing series of articles on guns in the United States.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (56)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/29/2014 - 09:50 am.

    And while we’re at it

    …I’d like to see some genuine research on the number of successful home defenses via firearms. By “genuine,” I mean research not funded or conducted by either the NRA or whatever group(s) are most overtly hostile to gun ownership. As is sometimes the case, I think The Onion has diagnosed the issue appropriately:


  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/29/2014 - 09:51 am.

    • Number of AIDS deaths since beginning of epidemic: 658,992, including more than 16,000 in 2010

    • Number of new HIV infections, 2010: 47,500 (Has hovered around 50,000 per year for a decade)


    Each year >40,000 Americans are killed in, or by automobiles. The number of injuries


    Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.1 More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009


    •From 2005-2009, there were an average of 3,533 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day. An additional 347 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.


    Life is dangerous. We’re all going to die. What to do?

    • Submitted by Chris Farmer-Lies on 05/29/2014 - 10:45 am.

      That is the entire point of the article. Much of the data you cited on these unrelated public health issues comes from the CDC. The CDC should gather similar data on the public health crisis wrought by gun violence. Data of the type you cite has been critical in my field of public health, which is unrelated to guns.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/29/2014 - 01:38 pm.

        The CDC compiles numbers, and yet people continue to die. To what end shall we collect gunshot death data?

        Of course it’s for fodder to assault the 2nd amendment with, which is understandable given the left’s thirst to control the individual. However I believe you will find that of all the rights guaranteed by our constitution, none will be defended like the 2nd.

        The NRA isn’t some monolithic entity; it’s tens of millions of individual Americans, like me. And with each new assault on our constitution, millions more join.

        The vast majority of Americans understand that as the importance of guaranteeing our right to own a gun has nothing to do with hunting.

        • Submitted by jason myron on 05/29/2014 - 04:57 pm.

          Tens of millions?

          the last membership count was closer to five,and even that number is in dispute. But congratulations on being duped by La Pierre. He’s done a remarkable job of throwing unsubstantiated rhetoric on the fire to keep paranoid gun owners in a lather. They in turn hoard weapons and ammo, forcing the rest of us ( the ones that don’t attempt to walk into a Chili’s with AR-15’s slung around our shoulder) to pay inflated prices for that ammunition. All while La Pierre enjoys a sweet, high six figure salary.

        • Submitted by Chris Farmer-Lies on 05/29/2014 - 07:06 pm.

          Most of this comment is completely irrelevant to anything I or the article said, so I’m going to ignore much of it.

          Absolutely no public health professional working in any field will ever say that we’re going to completely eradicate a problem simply by gathering data. This sort of data, which we in tobacco have been using for decades, gives us a better idea of who is smoking, what their circumstances are, the health effects of tobacco use, etc. “The end” to this kind of information is a smoking rate that has been cut in more than half in the last fifty years. We’ve done this without prohibition, though prohibiting tobacco would presumably be much easier than prohibiting guns.

          Whatever your opinion on the gun debate, it’s unquestionable that gun violence is a public health issue. There are many potential uses for data that would not turn your paranoid fever dream into reality. In fact, it’s very likely that studying this issue will turn up some results that would give both sides common policy objectives to reduce gun deaths. Ignoring a problem has never, ever helped us overcome it.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/30/2014 - 06:06 am.

            “We’ve done this without prohibition…”

            Ouch. That had to hurt. But thanks for the example of the sorts of mendacity the NRA is tasked to combat.

            • Submitted by Chris Farmer-Lies on 05/30/2014 - 11:23 am.

              Sadly, it seems that you have not changed or grown at all during your long absence. (which was precipitated by numerous predictions about the outcome of the 2012 elections that turned out to be almost completely incorrect)

              I thoughtfully corrected your misconceptions about how data works in public health. You’re passing up a valuable opportunity to learn from a public health professional about how this data can be used to address needless gun deaths without infringing on even your skewed perspective of the second amendment. Instead, you derailed the discussion with irrelevant right-wing paranoia and meaningless quips. I could continue to help you address your ignorance, but I think my time is better spent ignoring you.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/29/2014 - 03:20 pm.



  3. Submitted by David Frenkel on 05/29/2014 - 12:34 pm.


    The real problem is the NRA. Until their attitudes can be changed or neutralized they successfully scare or defeat every politician that mentions anything to do with gun control. The NRA lays low after shooting incidents like what just happened in Santa Barbra but when the uproar comes to the state capital they reappear like what is happening now at the state capital in CA where new gun legislation is being discussed. Maybe people with sensible attitudes towards gun control should join the NRA to bring in a different view point to the organization.

  4. Submitted by Steve Rose on 05/29/2014 - 02:06 pm.

    Suicide, according to the CDC …

    … via Pew Research:


    “Suicides by gun accounted for about six of every 10 firearm deaths in 2010 and just over half of all suicides, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    Since the CDC began publishing data in 1981, gun suicides have outnumbered gun homicides. But as gun homicides have declined sharply in recent years, suicides have become a greater share of all firearm deaths: the 61% share in 2010 was the highest on record. That year there were 19,392 suicides by firearm compared to 11,078 homicides by gun (35% of all firearm deaths). The rest were accidents, police shootings and unknown causes.”

    Collect all the guns, and problem solved! Right?

    With nearly no civilian gun ownership, Japan achieves a suicide rate nearly twice that of the U.S. (The leading cause of death for men 20-44 and for women 15-34). How do they do it? One popular method involves producing a gas from common household liquids. Banning those materials would not address the root cause of suicide, and until you address the root cause of any problem, you have not addressed the problem at all.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/29/2014 - 03:24 pm.


      is a very special case (look up seppuku).
      Cultures without this particular practice and the culture that it is derived from (most of the rest of the world) don’t show a high rate of non-firearm suicide.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 05/29/2014 - 04:07 pm.

        Not that special

        This Washington Post link leads to a table of suicide rate by country. South Korea has the highest suicide rate and very restrictive gun laws. Japanese ritual suicides are not prevalent in Korea.


        Many countries in this tabulation have higher suicides rates that the United States. Even Canada, with far more restrictive gun laws, has a slightly higher rate of suicide.

        As a society, we should seek to save people, not just save people from guns.

  5. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/29/2014 - 06:10 pm.


    …is a Swiftian specialty, though I’m happy to see Mr. Swift back in the commentary from time to time.

    As Chris Farmer-Lies pointed out it’s an odd use of government statistics on various causes of death to try to persuade people that we should not collect similar statistics on a cause of death that rivals the automobile in lethality. In every case presented by Mr. Swift, the collection of data has been followed by measures, some legislative, some administrative, some based on advertising, to reduce the death toll, and in all the cases provided by Mr. Swift, the result has been less carnage.

    That, Mr. Swift, is why the data should be collected.

    Fewer deaths. Fewer injuries.

    Unless your enjoyment of the macabre is peculiarly and particularly stimulated by higher numbers of gun deaths, whether by accident, murder or suicide, fewer deaths – the vast majority of them preventable – ought to be reason enough to collect data, and then, based on that data, do what we’ve done in all the other instances you’ve cited. That is, we’ve passed laws or devised new strategies to address each issue, put in place methods of enforcement where appropriate, or used persuasion and public health facilities and personnel to provide alternatives, and as a result reduced the death toll from each of those causes.

    People used to die by the millions from diseases that we figured out how to prevent. Would you have us return to those good old days of the 15th century and the Black Plague?

    Indeed, life is dangerous, and I don’t know of a way to prevent people from making choices that are stupid and/or damaging to themselves and others, but simply accepting as a given that tens of thousands of our fellow-citizens will die of gunshot wounds every year when that is not even close to being the case in any other industrial society that we’d call civilized, and when the sort of information the CDC is now prevented from collecting might allow us to dramatically lower that death toll, is demonstrably sociopathic.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 05/29/2014 - 07:39 pm.

      Would you have us return to those good old days…

      “Would you have us return to those good old days of the 15th century? “……..C’mon Ray…of course they would. Name one progressive idea that anyone in the GOP has put forth? They’re against science, education, ecology, improving infrastructure…virtually everything that moves this country forward. Their entire ideological platform is nothing but Thunderdome…

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/29/2014 - 08:32 pm.

      Very persuasive Ray. Except the rate of new AIDS infections are as high as ever, despite all that careful record keeping as are auto deaths.

      You want to stop gun violence by conducting a body count? I’m not the mental health pro you evidently are, but that sounds crazy to me.

      • Submitted by Pat McGee on 05/30/2014 - 09:19 am.


        Auto deaths have declined over the past two decades. And while the number of people living with AIDs has increased, the number of new infections per year has remained relatively stable.

        Facts, Mr. Swift.

  6. Submitted by Jon Lord on 05/30/2014 - 09:36 am.

    shoot first?

    When we treat a symptom as a single issue we’ll always miss the real point. What are the causes of that issue? What causes fears or hatred of our own country men and women to the extent that some feel the need to shoot someone? Or that they’ll need to someday? What are the mental health issues surrounding that?

    An assault rifle with a 50 clip or more isn’t rationale in an advanced society nor is the need to carry one in public. Not that we’re an advanced society yet but using an assault rifle with high capacity clips to hunt with kind of indicates the person can’t hit anything with one shot so they’ll just spray the area with high velocity ammo. It’s getting dangerous out there.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/30/2014 - 11:07 am.

    In the case the obvious is pretty much the case

    There has been some research, here’s one paper that was published back in 2004:


    It’s pretty obvious that having guns in the home or on hand increases rather than decreases danger and there’s no reason to expect that to change. I myself devoted a section on this in my blog about the 2nd Amendment last year.


    Its clear that lethality has increased because the percentage of assault weapons has increased. These weapons are producing more serious injuries because that’s what they’re designed to do.

    I’m all for more research but frankly we already have enough information to make better policy, we’re just letting a very small special interest block good policy for some reason.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/01/2014 - 01:07 pm.


      In 2011, the number of U.S. murders committed with rifles: 323. So called “assault weapons” are a subset of rifles. More people are murdered using bare hands.

      6,220, or 49% of the 12,664 homicides committed in the U.S. in 2011 were committed using handguns.


    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/01/2014 - 01:12 pm.

      CDC can use FBI Data for Free

      In 2011, the number of U.S. murders committed with rifles: 323. So-called “assault weapons” are a subset of rifles. More people were murdered using bare hands and feet (728). Knives were used in 1694 murders, 496 for clubs/hammers. Against all these categories in 2011, rifles came in last. What was that about the lethality of assault weapons?


      • Submitted by jason myron on 06/01/2014 - 05:34 pm.

        You’re attempting to equate the lethality

        of hands and feet with rifles? That must be why hunters go out in the bush and bring down game with their bare hands. Perhaps you could spread the word to the neanderthals that feel the need to sling their weapon over their shoulder and march through fast food places…they already have deadly weapons…their hands and feet. Thanks for the chuckle.

        • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/01/2014 - 10:04 pm.


          My reference to the word Lethality was in response to this statement directly above my comment:
          “Its clear that lethality has increased because the percentage of assault weapons has increased.”

          Yes, there are more assault weapons manufactured, purchased, and owned each year. But, they are used less often in the commission of murders than hand/feet, according to the FBI.

          Yes, that must be why …

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/02/2014 - 10:12 am.

    Steve and the Gun Lobby

    Sorry, I forgot to clarify my definition of “assault” weapon or firearm. I define, and think the definition should be: “Any firearm with a design derived from a military or combat weapon dating back to 1900”

    The Gun lobby loves to “debate” the definition of an “assault” weapon, it’s funny, the gun “experts” are the only guys in the room that can’t recognize a military weapon when they see one. It’s not about flash suppressors, or magazine capacity, or full or semi-auto selection switches, or the current Pentagon definitions.

    All of the current semi automatic pistols with clips magazines function and design originates with the Colt 1905 45 caliber military sidearm. You look at the colt 45, you look at a Glock, you’re looking at a military design.

    As far as rifles are concerned the vast majority of military rifles are based on the German WWII StG 44 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StG_44 the first rifle in history to actually be referred to as an assault rifle. It’s basically the same design that the AK47 would be based on. Eugene Stoner tinkered with the mechanism and material but you see the basic elements, large capacity quickly changed clip magazine, pistol grip to provide stability at high rates of fire, etc.

    Now you don’t need a pistol grip according to my definition because prior to the adoption of the the M16 the US produced a whole slew of assault rifles starting with the M1 Garand and ending with the M14, all of which were assault weapons, and none of which had pistol grips.

    Now a new assault design has emerged in the couple of decades, the “bullpup” design http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullpup Of course this is an assault weapon, it was designed as an assault weapon, to replace existing assault weapons.

    NOW, you if you look at firearm deaths in the US, and you don’t restrict your examination to the narrow gun lobby definition of assault weapons, you will find that military style weapons are indeed responsible for a majority of fatalities and serious injuries.

    Steve is making funny with definitions, he concluding that rifles of some kind are the only assault rifles and then pointing to an FBI data base that only list around 300 rifle homicides. What the CDC tell us is that in all age groups in 2010 there were around 9,200 homicides committed with firearms, and around 19,000 suicides committed with firearms http://webappa.cdc.gov/cgi-bin/broker.exe

    And here’s what we know about all this gun death data, it seriously UNDERESTIMATES the actually numbers by 50% or more. So you can probably look at these numbers and double them. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/us/children-and-guns-the-hidden-toll.html?_r=0

    Meanwhile you walk into a gun shop anywhere in the country and you see that almost every gun for sale is an assault weapon of some kind. Even the shotguns are based on combat designs. So yeah, when people get shot with these things, it does a lot of damage.

    You can also look at my analysis of assault weapons and mass shootings in the US if you like: http://pudstrand.fatcow.com/blog/?p=625

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 06/02/2014 - 05:00 pm.

      Assault Rifles

      The problem with the definition “any firearm with a design derived from a military or combat weapon dating back to 1900” is it includes just about any gun. For example, I own a bolt action M1903 Springfield and several M1 Garands (semi-auto with 8 round clips), which were adopted in 1903 and 1937, respectively. Both would be banned under this definition, which I would regard as suboptimal. That definition would effectively ban most firearms and lock out people like me who are simply collectors.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/02/2014 - 09:45 pm.

        No Todd

        I’m not defining any weapon used by the military since 1900 as an assault weapon. I’m defining any gun designed or derived from a military design AFTER 1900 as an assault weapon. Bolt action rifles existed prior to 1900 so they would not be included. The M1 Garand, or models derived from it would be classified as an assault weapon. Many types of guns would not be assault weapons. Revolvers, many shotguns, bolt action hunting rifles.

        Now I didn’t say anything about banning assault weapons, but we can talk about that. I wouldn’t ban the weapons, I would ban the sale of the weapons, by and to anyone other than guns clubs, or collectors. I would also be willing to make exceptions for specific guns such as the M1 Garand for a variety of reasons. I wouldn’t make it illegal to own such guns for those who already have them, I don’t think we want to turn people who legally purchased these weapons into criminals. Of course you’d have to create a by-back program of some kind so that people who had these weapons could legally get rid of them and get some of their money back out. By the way, you implement the definition by creating a commission or committee that looks at every gun and determines it’s classification, you’d end up with a list. We can make exceptions regarding the ban, but we can have a clear definition of an assault weapon.

  9. Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/02/2014 - 10:56 am.

    Diane Feinstein and the Gun Lobby

    Again, Paul is playing tricky with the definitions. What commercially available handgun can claim no influence from the Colt 1911 design? Replicas of antique designs. Therefore, they are all so-called assault weapons and should all be banned. Now, I see what is going on here.

    Arguably, my definition is closer to famous gun lobby front person Senator Feinstein’s defintion.

    From the Senator’s website:


    Clearly, the CDC doesn’t need money; analysis is available on Paul’s blog, or so he says.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/02/2014 - 02:57 pm.


      “Again, Paul is playing tricky with the definitions. What commercially available handgun can claim no influence from the Colt 1911 design?”

      Any revolver you care to point to, they do still make them, like the one Dirty Harry used.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/02/2014 - 04:03 pm.

        Good Point

        While revolvers have not descended directly from the Colt Model 1911, today’s wheel guns have been benefited from the technology of military revolvers, like the Colt Model 1917. As such, they fit your definition of “assault weapon”.

        Some history of the M1917 and the technology in it:


        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/02/2014 - 05:40 pm.

          No steve,

          My definition clearly states that assault weapons are those derived from military designs since 1900. The revolver predates that, as do many types of shotguns, and bolt action rifles. We’re talking about guns, not the components. The definition says nothing about any benefits from military experience or component design. Few if any guns being manufactured today are being manufactured the exact same way, with the exact materials they were prior to 1900. So yes, while there have been military revolvers, past and present, they would not qualify at assault weapons because the basic design i.e. revolver, predates 1900. Modern bolt action sniper rifles would also not fit my definition of an assault weapon even though they’ve clearly been modified by military requirements and experience.

          • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/02/2014 - 08:36 pm.

            Spoken Like a Politician

            “Any firearm with a design derived from a military or combat weapon dating back to 1900”

            Would you consider a handgun that can accurately deliver 12 rounds in 3 seconds an assault weapon? How about 12 rounds in 6 seconds? A revolver can be made to reach that level of lethality due to a design innovation for the U.S. military in 1908. Moon clips were designed for revolvers to handle the .45 ACP rounds designed for the Colt Model 1911.



            The modern moon clip was devised shortly before World War I (circa 1908). The device then became widespread during the war, when the relatively new M1911 semi-automatic pistol could not be manufactured fast enough for the war effort. The U.S. War Department asked Smith & Wesson and Colt to devise ways to use the M1911’s .45 ACP rimless cartridge in their revolvers. The result was the M1917 revolver, employing moon clips to chamber the military-issue .45 ACP ammunition. Smith & Wesson invented and patented the half-moon clip, but at the request of the Army allowed Colt to also use the design free of charge in their own version of the M1917 revolver.

            Moon clips may be even faster to use than a speedloader. Jerry Miculek, a top IPSC revolver shooter, has demonstrated the ability to fire six shots from a .45 ACP revolver, reload, and fire six more shots to the 6×11-inch A zone of an IPSC target at 15 ft (4.6 m) in under three seconds. This feat was possible by using moon clips to allow quick and reliable ejection of the fired rounds, and a quick reload of all six chambers at once.

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/02/2014 - 10:11 pm.

    What to do?

    Like I’ve said, I think we have enough data to make better policies, but what policies?

    1) Adopt a functional definition of assault firearms because they are the most lethal and dangerous guns we have. Then ban the sale of those weapons to anyone but gun clubs, or collectors. Of course you have to regulate the clubs and collectors. Create a legal avenue for people to get rid of their assault weapons with by-backs. Eventually this would decrease the number of such guns in the general population.

    2) Education. By that I don’t mean gun training. We know that training and familiarity with guns does not make them safer. (not that we should stop training) By education I mean teaching people that guns are inherently dangerous technology, they are lethal weapons. They are in fact dangerous to possess. One of the biggest lies that’s been promoted in American culture is the notion that a gun is no more dangerous than a pencil. This is simply a lie, we need to put this nonsense to rest and be honest about the real nature and danger of guns. People can still own then, hunt with them, shoot them for recreation, use them for protection now and then, but the choice to bring a gun into your home needs to informed by reality, not gun lobby propaganda. It’s stupid to bring a loaded AK47 to a picnic, we need to stop being stupid.

  11. Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/03/2014 - 01:07 am.

    A Commission or Committee?

    That is what we need, some government entity arbitrarily deciding what I do and do not need. Yes we presently have some of that, but not nearly enough. If that sounds good, why not another commission that decides what I do and do not say? There would be a lot less trouble in this world if people would just stop it with the all of the unpopular ideas that I don’t like.

    Tell us more about how “We know that training and familiarity with guns does not make them safer.” Does that principle apply to other dangerous things in our world, like cars?

    Imagine a world without guns. Would we just get along and behave well? Evidence indicates otherwise. What was the most dangerous weapon brought to school by Harris and Klebold the day of the Columbine killings? Concealed in a gym bag, each of them brought a 20-pound propane bomb, and planted them in the school cafeteria. After these propane canisters failed to detonate, Harris and Klebold took up guns and attacked their schoolmates. Who among us would not have to leave their city or suburban block, nor spend more than 15 minutes, to collect 100 pounds of propane from neighbors’ backyard BBQ grills.

    While Columbine was the deadliest attack ever perpetrated at an U.S. high school, it was not the deadliest attack on a U.S. school. That occurred in 1927 and involved the successful detonation of explosives. On May 18, 1927 in Bath Township Michigan, Andrew Kehoe killed 38 elementary school children and six adults, and injured at least 58 others. Prior to that, he killed his wife with a blunt object and destroyed his homestead with fire and explosives.

    No, guns are not the root cause of violence in our society. Until you have addressed the root cause of a problem, you have not started to address it in a meaningful way.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 06/03/2014 - 08:26 am.

      Spare me…

      As a long time gun owner, I think Paul’s diatribe, while well meaning, is pap. But, so is attempting to use the 1927 attack as a reason to turn a blind eye to gun violence. Seriously…”No, guns are not the root cause of violence in our society. Until you have addressed the root cause of a problem, you have not started to address it in a meaningful way.”…. send up a flag when you figure this one out as humanity has been violent from the start of its existence. In fact, that statement is contradictory to the third sentence in the third paragraph of your post….you already know the answer
      I’m beyond tired if people like you dismissing kids getting killed simply because it hasn’t affected you directly. Any responsible gun owner should be asking what we can do to make it harder for these tragedies to occur. And you can point your finger in ever other direction, but stop trying to dismiss the fact that an overzealous gun culture and too many paranoid gun owners aren’t part of the the problem. Look no further than the Cliven Bundy debacle or open carry fetishists. In the future, do us all a favor and dispense with your semantic argument of what the most deadly attack is on a school. At the end of the day, it’s all about parents burying their sons and daughters. You might help the cause a bit more by remembering that

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/03/2014 - 09:59 am.


        Are you reading someone else’s comment? Quote me on “dismissing kids getting killed”.

        It is true that humanity has been violent from the start; it is not true that taking the tool from the savage is going to make him peaceful.

        Say you were a Doctor, whose patient whose most salient symptom is a high fever. Would your primary concern be to reduce that fever? That fever might be a symptom of an infection, and that fever is working to kill that infection. Failing to address the underlying cause of the fever would be poor and negligent doctoring. So too, addressing the tools of violence as if they were the cause, does not begin to address the problem.

        It seems to me that we are headed in the right direction. From the NYTimes”In all regions, the country appears to be safer. The odds of being murdered or robbed are now less than half of what they were in the early 1990s, when violent crime peaked in the United States. Small towns, especially, are seeing far fewer murders: In cities with populations under 10,000, the number plunged by more than 25 percent last year.”


        If we achieved these types of gains in fighting cancer or heart disease, celebrations would ensue.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/03/2014 - 10:34 am.


        “I think Paul’s diatribe, while well meaning, is pap.”

        You wound me sir. For what it’s worth I am also a “life long” owner of guns. In fact, one of the guns I own would be an assault weapon according to my definition. We should note that the majority of people who shoot themselves or others deliberately or otherwise are also “life long” owners of guns. I’m not sure what that qualification is supposed denote but expect it to shut down the conversation.

        I think you make a good point however. A friend of mine suggested a while back that what need to do is replace the NRA with a RRA… “Reasonable Rifle Association”. The truth is you’re absolutely right, the majority of gun owners recognize the need and practicality for a variety of gun control measures. We’re letting a small lobby exert disproportionate power over the lawmaking process.

        • Submitted by jason myron on 06/03/2014 - 01:41 pm.

          Sorry, Paul, “pap” was a little strong

          as I stated, I know your heart is in the right place, but any thought of reeling back the purchase of such a broad characterization of weapons is a pipe dream in this country. Personally, I think the only chance of reigning things in a bit is creating more stringent requirements to purchase, including required gun safety and training for ANY purchase and updated background checks every two years afterwards. That training should not be privatized, but government run by personnel trained and able to psychologically evaluate as well. Add the stipulation that upon purchase one must also purchase a gun safe or prove that they have one. Yes, I know…it’s a pipe dream, but banning the outright sale of so many weapons is just a non-stater, while support for stricter requirements to purchase may be a somewhat easier sell for the broader public. Now finding politicians brave enough to take that stand is a completely different issue.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/03/2014 - 02:40 pm.

            Pap shmap

            I’m not sure my sales ban is that unrealistic. We did actually have an assault rifle ban back in the 90s, the majority of people in the US want some kind of restrictions, AND my ban isn’t broad you think. For instance it could be narrowed to include only those assault guns manufactured after 1950. You could make exceptions for other guns, and you could add restrictions to some of these shotguns based on combat models. Furthermore since I’m not talking about criminalizing ownership people could keep the guns they already have, they just wouldn’t be able to sell them to anyone other than a gun club, a licensed collector, or the government. People would still be able to have fun shooting these things even if they didn’t own them because you could always join a gun club. This ban would leave plenty of other guns around for hunting, shooting, plinking, and self defense. While the handguns I’m classifying as assault weapons could be used for self defense, they’re no more useful than a revolver. Assault rifles are useless for self defense, and most other purposes, they’re just fun to shoot. For instance in MN you can’t do much more than shoot small game with an AR15, and it would be way cheaper and just as effective to shoot small game with a 22 of some kind. And this actually brings me to another issue regarding the over-all morality of assault weapons and their detrimental effect on gun culture.

            Listen, we used to hunt or shoot rabbits and squirrels with 22s, now your shoot them with an AR15? look at the mentality of taking a military combat weapon to a rabbit? Hunting used to be about having some kind of relationship to nature, an assault rifle demolishes nature, that’s not hunting it’s just killing.

            Anyways screening and training aren’t a bad idea, they should be part of the over-all regime, but they won’t put a dent in the homicides or suicides that comprise most the vast majority of fatalities. As far as accidents are concerned I’d be willing to say that we have more training now than ever before but our number of non-fatal gun injuries has actually went UP from 75,000 in 2010 to 81,000 in 2012. More recent data isn’t available yet. And again, we know that that data probably under reports the actual numbers.

            We could apply the restrictions you suggest to the non-assault weapons still for sale.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/03/2014 - 09:00 am.

      What don’t need is absurd arguments like this

      “That is what we need, some government entity arbitrarily deciding what I do and do not need.”

      There’s nothing “arbitrary” about creating clear guidelines and following them. Laws are not “arbitrary”, laws prevent the “arbitrary” application of force or sanctions.

      We use commissions, committees, etc. all the time. The FAA, FTC, NLRB, FCC, etc. are perfect examples. There’s nothing “arbitrary” about what this agencies do. We could easily establish something like a “National Firearm Review Board” that could function perfectly well.

      The argument that regulation is a slippery slope to tyranny is absurd given our history as a nation. We’ve been making laws and enforcing them for over 200 years.

      “Tell us more about how “We know that training and familiarity with guns does not make them safer.” Does that principle apply to other dangerous things in our world, like cars?”

      Of course it does, THAT’s exactly the point. Why would training and familiarity be any more effective with guns than it is with cars or any other dangerous technology? It’s not, THAT’s my point. Yet the gun lobby keeps telling us that guns are no more dangerous than pencils if we take gun safety classes and familiarize ourselves with guns.That’s a lie pure and simple. We know for a fact that training and familiarity do not make dangerous things safe, whether your climbing a mountain or renting a nail gun. Thousands of people are killed and injured with dangerous technology every day despite training and familiarity.

      Now I call the gun lobby liars because it’s inconceivable that a bunch of people with more gun training and experience than anyone else could make such transparently ridiculous claims. The first lesson of any gun safety class is: “guns are very dangerous, you have to be very very careful when handling them”. Yet every time we have public discussions about gun safety the gun lobby shows up to tell us that guns are no more dangerous than pencils or feet as if they actually believe that. It’s a lie, we need to call it what it is. We need to stop pretending that dangerous nature of guns could be a point of view, it’s not. Guns are extremely dangerous and lethal technology.

      That doesn’t mean guns can’t exist, or they can’t handled under any circumstances, or can’t be owned, etc. It just means that any policies that flow out of the assumption that guns are no more dangerous than feet is going to get people killed. And guess what? That’s exactly what we’ve been doing, so it’s no mystery why more Americans get killed and injured with guns than any other country in the world. When you combine stupidity with dangerous technology you invariably get people killed.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/03/2014 - 09:48 am.


        I am not familiar with the pencil argument; you didn’t hear it from me nor do I subscribe to it.

        Nothing arbitrary? If you look upstream a few comments, you might recall that I mentioned a 1908 revolver innovation, which can be used on today’s revolvers to fire twelve .45 ACP rounds in 3 seconds. If you are slow, it would take you 9 or 12 seconds. However, by your definition it is not an assault weapon. Even though it is easily concealed and can kill at a rate faster than one per second, you are totally down with that firearm. Seems arbitrary.

        If you want to see how dangerous something can be, you need to end training. Start handing out driver’s licenses to kids on birthday 16. We all know that training for dangerous tools and activities is ineffective.

        “Americans get killed and injured with guns than any other country in the world.” Paul, again fast and loose with “facts”. In round numbers, homicides by firearms: 9,000 for the U.S., 11,000 for both Mexico and Venezuela, 13,000 for Colombia, 35,000 for Brazil. Even if you add 19,000 U.S. gun suicides and assume that Brazil has zero, the U.S. still falls far short of Brazil.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/03/2014 - 10:19 am.

          The point you’re missing…

          Your revolver is irrelevant. We’re not talking about how dangerous stuff can be, we’re talking about guns. Is this not obvious?

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/03/2014 - 02:04 pm.

          The other point your missing…

          I said Americans get killed AND Injured. In 2010 there 31,000 gun related fatalities in the US, 11,000 of those were homicides (not 9,000) and around 19,000 were suicides. We had another 75,000 non-fatal gun injuries. One reason our actual fatality rates are lower than Brazil’s is our level of trauma care is far better than theirs, you’re less likely to become a homicide victim even if you do get shot in the US. Columbia is in the midst of a civil/drug war, AND they don’t have our level of trauma care. Furthermore we know that our gun fatality rates are under-reported for a variety of reasons. Much of our data is drawn from only 18 states.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/03/2014 - 09:12 am.

    Speaking of absurd aguments…

    And then there’s this one:

    “No, guns are not the root cause of violence in our society. Until you have addressed the root cause of a problem, you have not started to address it in a meaningful way.”

    Again, transparently absurd. It’s like saying there’s no point in putting seat belts or airbags in cars because the root cause of injuries is car accidents, not cars. Until we stop car accidents we’re wasting our time. Thing, is… thousand of lives are saved by seat belts and airbags every year.

    They haven’t changed human nature in England, or Norway, or France, they still have violence, yet they have a fraction of a fraction of gun injuries and deaths compared to the US.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/03/2014 - 09:50 am.

      Take away guns and less people get shot…QED. They still kill one another every day, but at least they don’t have firearms. So, death by fist, boot or knife is preferred?

      Absurd no; bizarre yes.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/03/2014 - 10:26 am.

        Yes Absurd

        Those countries all have fewer homicides per capita than the the US, about one quarter of our rates. So yes, the idea that people will just kill people with something else if we take their guns away is absurd and bizarre.


        Spare us the comparisons with El Salvador etc. by the way because we know the homicides being committed there are primarily committed with guns.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 06/03/2014 - 01:48 pm.


        people die in car accidents everyday, so what’s the point of speed limits? Yes, let’s just throw up our hands and do absolutely nothing while grieving parents are burying their six year old kids a week before Christmas as in Sandy Hook, or are you one of those people who think these school shootings are “false flags” as well? And yeah, I’d rather go toe to toe with someone out to get me with their bare hands or a knife instead of being dispatched from ten feet away.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/03/2014 - 10:41 am.

    This business about dynamite, and by the way…

    Yeah, you can point to mass murders that were committed with something other than guns, but then you have to acknowledge that there were responses to those events. We regulate the sale of dynamite, and even fertilizer after the Oklahoma bombing. Yet despite attack after attack with assault weapons we’ve done nothing to regulate guns in any effective way. You can point to all the gun laws on the books if you want but then I”m just going to point out that they’re obviously not effective, mostly because the majority of them were written or re-written by the gun lobby.

    Oh, and lever action guns are another design that would NOT be considered assault weapons under my definition.

  14. Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/03/2014 - 12:00 pm.

    Propane, fuel oil, gasoline

    Highly regulated, hard to get, left unlocked in your neighbor’s yard and driveway nightly.

    There was no response or new regulations in reaction to propane bombs at Columbine; many never knew of it, as it was left out of many reports.

    You are not getting any traction with me regarding your assault weapons definition. Weapons do not have an intent. If one of the unarmed Kunming train station security guards had been armed with a so-called assault weapon, he likely would have reduced the death and injured count by intervening with an overpowering force. Would you characterize such actions as an assault?

    • Submitted by jason myron on 06/03/2014 - 01:53 pm.

      Pure speculation

      It’s just as likely that the security guard would have been the first one killed. And seriously…enough with trying to equate commodities with guns. It doesn’t help your argument, rather it just reinforces the opinion that you couldn’t care less about human life.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/03/2014 - 02:13 pm.

      The propane bombs didn’t explode

      If they had, and if they killed a bunch of people, you can better we’da got stronger regulations on the sale of propane and tanks.

  15. Submitted by tiffany vanvorken on 06/04/2014 - 08:18 am.

    guns don’t kill people. a human pulls the trigger.

    Cars kill people! does that make sense?

  16. Submitted by Jon Lord on 06/05/2014 - 08:12 am.

    what should be

    done is testing with the MMPI-2 before a person can own a gun. If a person appears to be paranoid or unbalanced they don’t get one. But then the fear probably is, by the NRA, that no one would be allowed to own a gun. It’s true that private sales could bypass a person having to take the MMPI-2 but it’d be a start.

    Right now there is no way to prevent a suspected terrorist from buying a gun. Or several.

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/05/2014 - 10:37 am.

    Mental Health Screening won’t work

    You think paranoia should be the ONLY disqualifying characteristic? What about depression which can lead to suicidal and homicidal ideation? Anti-social personality? And to what degree since many “normal” people display some amount of pathology?

    As someone who worked in the mental health field for over a decade I can tell you, and my colleges would agree, we barely manage to capture mental illness with our mental health screening, let alone identify potentially dangerous gun owners.

    The assumption that all terrorist are mentally ill is actually problematic. An MMPI for instance may reveal some personality issues but it wouldn’t necessarily discover anything rising to the level of actual pathology in such a person believe it or not. We consider the threshold for mental illness to be a point at which the ability to function normally is impaired to some extent. Terrorist are very high functioning as a general rule. The MMPI is a clinical tool, not a screening instrument. It’s true we have screening for military and law enforcement applicants, but it’s also true that a lot of people slip through the screening process without raising any flags.

    By the way, do you know how expensive it is to administer and score an MMPI? Even the -2?

    The other problem with mental health screening, and I’m surprised more people don’t seem to realize this, is that by law the results of such tests are confidential medical records. So what would trigger the test? An application for a gun purchase? And what exactly triggers a denial and who gets to see what information? Every MMPI reveals certain levels of pathology in some corner of a persons psyche, most of which don’t qualify as clinically valid diagnosis per se. For instance that recent California shooter was in therapy, but he was also very high functioning and would likely not have qualified for hospitalization. And anyways, when do you screen and how often? People develop mental illness, stable people become unstable. Do you take an MMPI every time you buy a gun?

    There may be ways we can bring a persons mental illness into the process but “screening” of some kind is a dodgy proposition for a lot of reasons. And if you look the school shooting phenomena you see that often time someone else, who was free of pathology, actually purchased the guns the unstable people used.

    By the way mental health professionals in most states already have “duty to warn” requirements, and in California the therapist did just that. The problem is the law enforcement component failed. The deputies interviewed the shooter without first looking at the material the guys mother and therapist were pointing to. They didn’t even bother to look at it after the fact. This was a investigative failure. They also failed to check the gun registry and find out the guy had guns in the first place. I’m sure they’ll plead lack of resources and what not, but what’s the point of interviewing someone if your not going to do it correctly? Instead of spending $300k on armored cars and riot gear maybe we should hire enough staff to investigate such complaints properly or at the very least establish proper procedures for investigation such complaints beyond sending patrolmen out to conduct “interviews” with zero backgrounding. I can see where police might argue that the faster you get to a potentially dangerous person the better, but again, if your going to get them quickly just to walk away without recognizing the threat what’s the point? Besides any cop with a smart phone can watch a youtube video on the way over to the suspects house.

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