I've blogged before about how deceptive I think the term "firearm deaths" is (as it lumps in police action, homicides and suicides as one group), and it turns out this is the same report that annoyed me the first time. This time however, I was struck by the chart they included in the article:
I was curious about this chart....what would it look like if the firearm deaths were broken out in to categories? The VPC report said it used WISQARS to generate the data, so I took a look. WISQARS actually has 5 categories for death by firearm: homicide, suicide, unintentional, legal intervention and undetermined intent.
Here's what those look liked graphed out:
As a reference point, the population was 280 million in 1999, and was 309 million in 2010.
To be honest, I don't have a strong opinion about gun control, but I do hold data integrity at a premium. If we're going to talk about regulating guns in order to keep people safe, you have to either include suicide prevention as one of your foremost points, or you have to start using the homicide data only. I do not believe it is intellectually honest to quote total firearm death statistics when the national conversation is clearly focusing on homicides.
If we don't start with the right data, how will we know if any interventions actually work?