We saw, over the weekend, another pair of mass murders occur, yet again, in America. Namely,El Paso and Dayton.
The usual process that seems to occur after every mass shooting occurred again.
As a future doctor, I feel so much for these unnecessary deaths. As a realist, I despair but wonder what the purpose of getting angry would be when the above keeps happening. But as a scientist, I was outraged when Neil DeGrasse Tyson, one of the most prominent science educators in the world, put out this tweet:
Here was my response to this.
Not only was it extremely tasteless, it was plain wrong too. First off, according to the CDC, 14995 people were killed by guns in homicides in the US in 2016. That’s not 40, but rather 79, or 80, per 48 hours. It appears that Neil made a math error to begin with, or deliberately chose only handguns (for some odd reason) instead. PS – I found the reddit thread where Neil got his numbers and argument from.
This isn’t just conjecture. It’s a proven correlation.
States in the US which have more guns have higher suicide rates. In homes with firearms, 86 percent of people who used a had a firearm in their home used the gun to commit suicide. In homes without firearms, only 6 percent of suicides used a firearm. It’s pretty obvious… if you have a gun, you’re more likely to kill yourself with a gun. Gun purchasers had a 4.3x higher chance of suicide, and gun suicide (7.2x higher). For every 10% likelihood to have a gun in the household, rates of suicide went up 26.9%
As I mentioned in the video – higher prevalence of guns is related to more suicides too. 90% of people who got past acute episodes of distress of panic who didn’t have easy access to a gun wouldn’t go on to commit suicide.
Guns aren’t even that big an industry in the US. 12,000 businesses only generate $11billion in revenue per year, which seems like a lot, but the startup I’m working on is in the mattress industry, which generates over $14billion in sales. On the other hand, gun violence directly costs the US over $2.8billion in healthcare expenditure. That’s just the cost to treat people who turn up to hospital with injury. $17.4 billion is the actual pricetag if you include indirect losses in income and productivity as well.
The most abhorrent thing here though is that Neil’s tweets are going to be used, for decades, to justify gun violence, and oppose gun control. If ‘a prominent scientist’ said this, it means it must be true, to many. I understand his points. Hell, my startup, Australia’s Student Startup of the Year, is working to fix some preventable problems.
Right now further detail and research into gun violence and attempts to mitigate its impacts aren’t being done. It’s pure politics. The Dickey Amendment , where gun lobbiest hamstrung the CDC, a body that’s supposed to be indepent’s, ability to conduct research which is the only reason why we don’t have more conclusive data on interventions that exist to reduce gun violence.
Do video games cause more violence? Do background checks, which are supported by 79% of republicans, and 91% of democrats, lead to lower rates of gun acquisition and violence? WE may never now.
I’m not against guns. I’ve had long chats about people very proud about their guns and their connection to it while traveling through Tennessee a few years ago. I’ve hunted before. As a fisherman, I know the impact good recreational policy and advocacy – led mainly by fishermen – has on fish stocks and resetoration of waterways. Fishermen and hunters alike are invested, personally in conservation. Hunting funds 55% of the US’s department of fisheries and wildlife directly. Policies guide and aid in conservation. Fines are imposed if these are exceeded. Even Australia, which is famously used as an example of the success of gun control policy (after a mass buyback of guns, following a mass shooting, Australia has had 0 mass shootings in almost 2 decades), has a thriving hunting industry which brings in $460-1300million in revenue to Australia. Comparable to numbers seen in the US. Massachusetts, which has similar policies to us – requiring a licence, which takes about a day, before you can get access to a gun (with similarly high approval rates of over 97%, and freedom to do what you will) had 3.6 gun homicides/100,000, compared to 21+ in Alaska. That’s the lowest in mainland America. Gun control WORKS.
Funding for the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife breakdown.
The only people unrestricted gun availability is benefiting is 12000 gun business owners, a few gun convention businesses, a bunch of politicians, while costing America billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives. Neil’s tweet is only encouraging inaction. And that’s something I stand against.