Be Careful Where You Point Your Statistics…You Might Hurt Someone

12 Apr


It was suggested to me that I take a look at the homicide by firearm rate to get a clearer perspective of violence in the United States and how perhaps it isn’t all that bad.

So I checked out the statistics collected by the UNODC ( United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) from their 2011 Global Study on Homicide.

According to their statistics The US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world – an average of 88 per 100 people. That puts it first in the world for gun ownership ( the number two country, Yemen…(great company we’re in)… has significantly fewer  at 54.8 per 100 people)

The united States also ranks 1st in the total number of all civilian firearms with 270 million.

We are also #1 in rate of ownership.

But, say gun proponents, the US does not have the worst firearm murder rate.  In fact, the US is number 28, with a rate of 2.97 per 100,000 people. Isn’t that good news? Even though we have all of the guns we don’t have the highest firearm murder rate. We’re only 28th!

And here are the winners…

Honduras…El Salvador… Jamaica…Venezuela…Guatemala…St. Kits…Trinidad and Tobago…Columbia…Belize…Puerto Rico…Brazil…South Africa…Dominican Republic…Panama…Bahamas…Ecuador…Guiana…Mexico…Philippines….Paraguay…Anguilla…Nicaragua…St. Vincent…Zimbabwe…Costa Rica…Argentina…and (wait for it)…Barbados.

Not exactly the major leagues of industrialized and sophisticated 1st World countries is it?

And don’t even ask who #29 is!…all right you asked…it’s Gaza and the West Bank.

Yes, gun advocates have something to be proud of. At least we don’t kill each other like they do in Gaza and the West Bank.

In fact you have to go way down the list before you’ll find any other 1st world countries

Switzerland was at 45, Italy 48 and Canada came in at #56…but remember this is a list of the percent of murders by firearm. Switzerland had 57 gun murders, Italy 417 and Canada 173. The United States had 9, 146…so statistics don’t always paint the entire picture.

When it comes to the total number of murders by firearms we’re 5th. Brazil, Columbia, Mexico and Venezuela beat us out…but again which of those countries would you say out civilizes us? Interestingly enough they are also all in our hemisphere (in fact 25 of the top 28 are)…you know….the one the Monroe Doctrine told the rest of the world to keep their hands off of back in 1823.

But I digress because here is the most sobering statistic of all:

9,143 Americans were murdered with firearms in 2011 but At least 31,940 people died from gun injuries in 2011. That means that 22,797 citizens of the United States died from gunshot wounds that were what?

Accidents! Unintentional! Suicide!

This is what the proper and mathematical reading of statistics tells us.

Although outlaws kill over 9,000 people every year in the US, regular law abiding citizens like you and me kill 23,000 more!

Guns do not save lives. They kill the people who own them or their loved ones or their neighbors more than twice as often as they kill intended victims…and guess what?

And as we have increased gun ownership and the number of guns in our country over the last 30 years those numbers and ratios  have been rising…and most sadly…with a bullet.

17 Responses to “Be Careful Where You Point Your Statistics…You Might Hurt Someone”

  1. billduff April 12, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

    I love the title so much! What a great double entendue – and a fantastic point of view. Bravo for a very bold post.

  2. shellakers April 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    Awesome post! Thanks for putting this out there! Love when their statistics backfire on them 🙂

  3. NO ULTERIOR MOTIVE April 12, 2013 at 9:01 pm #


  4. beretolsen April 12, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    Excellent post, with the perfect title!
    When I was at a very impressionable age, Time magazine published the photographs of everyone who had died because of a firearm in a seven day period. I still get upset thinking about all of those faces–including so very many children–the majority of whom were killed (as you mention) accidentally, unintentionally, and by suicide and escalated domestic violence.

  5. tric April 12, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    I suspect you could post on this subject for days, months, years but the saying “none so blind as those who will not see” comes to mind.

  6. momshieb April 12, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    Again, thank you for posting this, and for stating the position so clearly.
    I have one more point to add: I heard an ER physician from Chicago (I think) on the radio recently. He said something along the lines of this:
    The number of gun injuries that we have seen in the ER in the past ten years have increased. The number of deaths, though, has decreased. That is because of advances in medicine, not a lessening of violence..

  7. crossinh April 13, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Thank you for posting the numbers behind this issue. I honestly can’t understand what is wrong with needing a license to own a gun. That just makes sense to me.

  8. Barbara Backer-Gray April 13, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    Wow, that should eh, knock ’em dead.

  9. Anne Chia April 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    I always worry about the numbers provided by the UN and like agencies. Sometimes prevalence rates; numbers against percentages/population size are not very clear. But still, 88 in 100 is shocking. Guns are not helpful

  10. Dan Hennessy April 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    Very clearly put ! Thanks.

  11. W E Patterson April 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Interesting post. I am not necessarily against guns, but when I think of how many people are carrying these days it scares the hell out of me. Here in S. Florida, the Miami area is getting more and more like the wild west every day – and I do not understand why anyone needs an assault rifle, but hey,that’s just me. A guy told me the other day that he’d just stocked up on 1100 rounds of ammo in preparation for some kind of upcoming apocalypse.Go figure.

  12. TamrahJo April 16, 2013 at 7:02 am #

    You have made valid points – however, one statistic that blows me away every time I hear it again, is that given historic tabulations, we live in the least violent age of our species so far as there are records to ponder and plot in statistic models…

    So, just for fun, I Googled “Top causes of death for American Citizens” and here’s one site’s stats for the top 15, with those that could have involved a gun marked by me via an asterisk:

    Heart Disease
    Chronic Lung disease
    Influenza and Pneumonia
    Nephritis/Kidney Disease
    Blood Poisoning
    Liver Disease
    Parkinson’s Disease

    Here’s the Firearms Death Rate: 10.1 out of every 100,000

    Which is less, but not by much, than Motor Vehicle Death rates: 11.7 out of every 100,000

    And way less than Heart Disease: 179.14 out of every 100

    This is why I usually avoid statistics like the plague – I get so involved in them… 🙂

    While I understand and accept the arguments regarding deaths by “natural causes” vs. “lives lost before their time”, I still believe it is important to view death statistics within a larger context that one category –

    While recent tragic events have opened our eyes regarding gun laws, I cannot help but point out that per 100,000 people, 63.7 in West Virginia will die from Accidents, 25.3 in Mississippi will die from a Motor Vehicle related death and 18.1 in Wyoming from Firearms. (these listed states had the highest percentage for their category)

    • TamrahJo April 16, 2013 at 7:03 am #

      Correction – Heart disease should read, “170.14 out of 100,000”

    • gpicone April 16, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

      Interesting points too, but I do believe that we try (meaning society and Gov.) to lessen all of these categories when it comes to their death rate and no one ever argues that the way to fight heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung disease, accidents, Alzheimer’s. Diabetes, influenza, pneumonia, kidney disease, blood poisoning, liver disease, hypertension, and Parkinson’s is by doing more of what it is that causes them or by exposing ourselves to more carcinogens or life style choices that lead to these causes of death. But with guns one side of the argument is always that “more is better”. Why would guns be the only category of “causes of death” where more is better or where more is considered to be a cure?

      • TamrahJo April 17, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

        I hear you! It’s hard to justify any opposition to gun control when mass murder events pepper our news streams …

        I would think the ‘more is better’ crowd is a small percentage at the extreme end of the pendulum with those who fear the ‘slippery slope of losing all self-defense freedoms” making up the vast majority of those who oppose gun control –

        I could be wrong and have yet to find any statistics/published polls that address this specifically –

        I posted these numbers in a the belief that broader knowledge tends to bring a sense of calm to debated issues, enabling both sides to take a step back and find a way to work together towards a compromise, understanding there are so many other issues that are in need of handling.

        I have lost a son (not to violence), a cousin (to violence) as well as 2 family members, 1 friend and 2 colleagues to suicide. I tell you this, so you will realize I have not reached my conclusions while sitting in some ivory tower.

        On the flip side, I was raised in a houseful of guns – loaded and at the ready at all times – with no locks or safes. As soon as I was old enough to understand, my instruction in gun safety started. I was target shooting by the time I was 5 – I knew what guns could do – I knew what a real gun felt like and if I was holding one in the absence of an adult, I was going to be in so much trouble, I’d probably wish I was dead before the punishment was over….

        I currently do not have any weapons in the house, because I live in a small community, I have a dog and nowhere to target shoot nor do I hunt at this time.

        Because of this history, I feel that I can see some of both sides, and I would really like this debate to come to some conclusion so we can get to work on issues I believe to be more of a threat (and some which I believe aides in gun related deaths)

        How many suicides occur over financial despair? How many youths enter a life of violence to find protection and hopefully freedom from the life of poverty they were born into?

        So, I guess, in my own way, I try to highlight just where our losses are occurring, in hopes that people can view the big picture, come to compromise and move on to the next item that needs fixing.

        Plus, I did inherit some fine weapons from my dad – I’d hate to find out someday I have to turn them over… I admit, I tend to fall somewhat at the edge of ‘slippery-slope’ group, though I sincerely hope my own experiences keep me from being judgmental against those who disagree with my points of view.


  13. Maurice A. Barry April 18, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    Your argument is rational and, as far as I can see, sound. I am totally in agreement but, then again, I am totally against a legal system that allows civilians to own handguns and assault weapons. Here’s the problem: the huge number of people who disagree with this stance (and I hasten to add that I am not one of them) won’t be swayed at all by your argument. All they’ll be is angry that some soft left-leaning something-or-other is, once again, trying to ‘take away’ their rights and leave them exposed to those ‘bad people’ (and you really do not want me to define them; it’s appalling). So am I suggesting that you stop? Certainly not! You and others must keep it up. No, you will not convince the current crop of zealous gun owners to turn in their shiny hardware. Like I said, all your argument will do for them is tick them off. But…perhaps they are not the intended audience. Others may listen–undecided youth and adults may hear the argument and decide to let their brains do the thinking. In so doing you just might lessen the number of armed-and-dangerous citizens but just a bit. Every unnecessary gun out of circulation is one more victory. All the best.


  1. Be Careful Where You Point Your Statistics…You Might Hurt Someone | Below Zero | Above Infinity - April 14, 2013

    […] When ipledgeafallegiance speaks, there is little more I can add, and he does it again with his continuing commentary on gun violence in the US: Be Careful Where You Point Your Statistics…You Might Hurt Someone. […]

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