A while back over at Quora.com I responded to the question, “How do you solve the gun problem in the United States in a realistic way?” thus:
America does not have a “gun problem.” It has an inner-city violent crime problem. Yes, I understand that the majority of deaths attributable to firearms are suicides, but suicide rates seem to be unaffected by firearm availability. If firearms are not available, other methods are substituted and are equally effective. The U.S., for all of its guns, ranks rather low for suicide internationally.
Criminal homicide is heavily concentrated in large urban centers, in specific areas of those large urban centers, and among a very small, self-identifying group in those specific areas. Yet no one raises a hue-and-cry when one more inner-city youth is gunned down by another inner-city youth, especially when both of them have long criminal records of escalating violence.
It’s been two years since Trayvon Martin died. During that period, more than 10,000 young black men 34 years of age or younger have died of criminal homicide by firearm.
Name three without using Google or another search engine.
Yet every time the media gets a victim they can run with, it’s the rural gun owner in Ohio or Wyoming they want to slap new restrictions on. We’ve watched it happen for literally decades, a slow-motion hate crime against gun owners, because “the problem” is defined as (and only as) “too many guns.”
Young black men are killed – overwhelmingly by other young black men – at a rate six times higher than the rest of the population. A demographic that consists of less than 7% of the population makes up over 40% of the victims, but no one wants to talk about it, or try to find a solution for it other than “midnight basketball” or greater welfare subsidies.
No, it’s much easier (and politically safer) to blame “gun availability” and the “gun culture.” Here’s a newsflash: There are three distinct “gun cultures” – one recreational, one defensive, and one criminal. Guess which one “gun control” doesn’t have any effect on?
So tonight I get an email that someone has responded to my answer. Here’s the comment in its entirety by one “Jesse James Richard”:
Interesting answer, but yes the US does have a gun problem by the standards of highly developed nations based on gun related deaths. From your answer I get you’re saying gun related death don’t matter because they are committed by black people.
Violence in the developed world is invariably related to poverty, so by extension I read that it gun related deaths don’t matter because they happen to the poor and should be dismissed because they rarely effect white (important) people.
I am a gun owner.
Here’s my reply:
“From your answer I get you’re saying gun related death don’t matter because they are committed by black people.”
Then you need to improve your logic skills.
“Violence in the developed world is invariably related to poverty, so by extension I read that it gun related deaths don’t matter because they happen to the poor and should be dismissed because they rarely effect white (important) people.”
So I’m not only a racist, I hate poor people too. Check.
“I am a gun owner.”
You forgot the “But….” My logic skills are quite good, though, so I know it’s implied: “I am a gun owner, but not a racist, classist, homophobic, anti-immigrant climate-denier like you.” Did I miss anything?
Now that we’ve gotten your obvious social sensitivity and implied moral superiority out of the way, let’s discuss FACTS.
Here’s the deal, Jesse James: facts are not racist. They’re not classist, they’re not homophobic, they’re not anti-environment, anti-immigrant, anti-handicapped or anything else – they’re just facts.
The inability to look at FACTS because of the fear of saying something politically incorrect is the reason nothing ever gets done.
Gun control – what politicians do instead of something.
I’m saying deaths – all deaths – matter, not just “gun deaths.” And that if you want to affect THAT problem, then you have to look at who is dying and where they are dying and why they are dying. Making rural and suburban gun owners license and register their firearms does not address the deaths of inner-city youths, regardless of the color of their skin. It so happens that inner city youths are overwhelmingly black, but that is not the fault of guns. But addressing the epidemic problem of inner-city youth homicide can’t be done because to do so would be considered “racist” by our political victim class.
The FACT of the matter is that homicide in the U.S. is heavily concentrated in a very small, easily identifiable demographic to the point that it severely skews the overall numbers. If it were possible to reduce homicide within that group to the same level as the average of the rest of the population, then the overall homicide rate in the U.S. – despite all of our guns – would be more in line with the rest of the “developed world.”
Look up the Centers for Disease Control’s WISQARS tool. Here are some relevant FACTS.
Leading causes of death, all races, both sexes from 1999 – 2010, from 15 years of age to age 34
1. Unintentional injury
2. Homicide (15-24 years of age) and Suicide (25-34)
3. Suicide (15-24) and Homicide (25-34)
4. Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
5. Heart disease
6. Congenital anomalies (15-24), HIV (25-34)
7. Flu and pneumonia (15-24), Diabetes (25-34)
Now, if we look specifically at black men in those groups:
1. Homicide – both age subgroups, by almost TWICE the runner-up, “unintentional injury.” Over that twelve year period, the CDC recorded 57,349 young black men between the ages of 15 and 34 died as a result of homicide – 46.2% of the total victims of homicide in those age groups (though they are only 7.2% of that population), 58% of the male victims of homicide in those age groups (14.2% of that population – I guess I’m anti-male, too), and 27% of all homicide victims, though they make up only 2% of the total population.
But I’m racist for pointing this out and saying “LOOK! THIS IS A BAD THING WE DON’T TALK ABOUT!”
Yet you want us to believe this is a “GUN problem”?
The homicide rate in 2010 according to the CDC was 5.27/100,000, all races, both sexes, all ages. For young black men ages 15-34 it was 73.21/100,000 almost fourteen times higher.
When performing triage on a patient, don’t you want to stop the arterial bleeding first? Or am I a racist for saying that?
If we could somehow reduce the homicide rate in this group to the 5.27/100,000 average of the nation, that alone would have saved the lives of 4,343 people in 2010. Is that not a goal to strive for? Then why are we talking about “assault weapon” bans and magazine size restrictions?
Oh, and by reducing the homicide rate in that demographic to 5.27/100,000, the total U.S. homicide rate would then decline to 3.86/100,000. I leave extrapolation of THAT data to you.
Yeah, we kill each other a lot. I get it. But when arterial blood is spurting from a limb, putting a Band-Aid™ on the victim’s finger doesn’t help. (OMG! A brand name! I must be in the pay of evil CORPORATIONS!!)
I wonder if he picked up on the subtle “FUCK YOU!” in my response?
UPDATE: He replied!
First let me state that your retort is great and your band aid tm made me laugh. You can chose to value or devalue this as disingenuous if you so see fit. It’s not.
By no means do I think you’re a racist or hate the poor, but it sure reads that way and this why:
If this question was about anything that killed people en-mass race, or really any social subclass, say gender, height, weight, educational background, surely would not have been brought up, right? It’s only because it’s guns and violence that we talk bout thugs before we talk about the guns.
1) do we have a problem with obesity in this county
2) do we have a problem with car accident-related deaths in this country
3) do we have a problem infant mortality in this count
You could never answer “we don’t have a problem with shitty drivers, we have a problem with women who are four to one more likely to crash a car.” That might be true, but you still have a problem with cars killing people.
You didn’t really answer the question, that’s my point. You skirted the issue and said we don’t have a problem with guns we have an inner city violent crime problem. Both might be true, but the fact that the US has between 5 – 10 x the gun related homicide deaths compared to other developed counties. This does suggest you have a problem with guns…. Or not, I guess. That’s up to you as an American.
Stats aren’t racist, on that we can agree.
He’s a Canuck, BTW. Haven’t decided if I want to beat on him some more.