Friday, December 28, 2012

Annual Gun Deaths: Japan 2; US 32,300

In the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre, legislators have returned to the debate over gun rights. Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at UCLA and author of "Gun Fight," breaks down the myths surrounding the Second Amendment and the history of gun control in the US:

Firearm injury in the United States has averaged 32,300 deaths annually between 1980 and 2006. In 2006, Japan recorded 2 deaths related to guns. 

Max Fisher wrote in The Atlantic last July:

"In 2008, the US had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally."

Bloomberg reported last week that while motor-vehicle deaths dropped 22% from 2005 to 2010, gun fatalities are rising again after a low point in 2000, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shooting deaths in 2015 will probably rise to almost 33,000, and those related to autos will decline to about 32,000, based on the 10-year average trend.

Gun deaths by homicide, suicide or accident peaked at 37,666 in 1993 before declining to a low of 28,393 in 2000, the data show. Since then the total has risen to 31,328 in 2010, an increase of 2,935, or eight more victims a day.

Germany has a population of 82m compared with the US at 312m.

The number of persons killed in traffic accidents in Germany is expected to fall by more than 7% to some 3,700 in 2012. This is suggested by estimates from Destatis, the federal statistics office, based on data available for the period from January to October 2012. As things stand, the figure will not be smaller than the lowest number of fatalities recorded to date, which is 3,648 persons killed in 2010.

See chart of trend from 1953.

The New York Times reported on December 28th that murders in New York have dropped to their lowest level in over 40 years

The number of murders is the lowest since 1963, when improvements in the recording of data were made.

Of the 414 murders, 14 deaths from previous years were counted as homicides for the first time. In many of these cases, victims of long-ago shootings died of sepsis in hospitals, the police said.

Of the 400 murders in 2012, 223 were gunshot victims, 84 victims were stabbed to death, 43 died of blunt trauma and 11 died of asphyxiation. The majority of the 400 homicides occurred on a Saturday, followed by early Sunday morning. Most occurred at 2 am. People were more likely to be killed outside than in. Nearly 70% of the victims had prior criminal arrests, the police said.

Domestic-related homicides dropped to 68, from 94 in 2011.

"The number of murders this year will be lower than any time in recorded city history," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, hailing the work of the New York Police Department (NYPD). "It also reflects our commitment to doing everything possible to stop gun violence," he said.

"Murders are down almost 19% this year compared with last year. They are down 35% from where they were 11 years ago when our administration began," Bloomberg added.

The number of shootings in the city also fell to a record low 1,353 this year, down 8.5% from last year, said Bloomberg. The previous low was 1,420 in 2009.

"We're taking 8,000 weapons annually out of the hands of people we stop, 800 of them illegal handguns," Ray Kelly, the police commissioner, said in a statement.