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The Person You’re Most Likely To Kill With Your Gun Is You

Memo Pad Politics

The Person You’re Most Likely To Kill With Your Gun Is You

Guns, Violence, Shootings, Second Amendment, Fatalities, Accidents, Self-Defense, Memo Pad, Politics

In 1979, there were nearly two automobile fatalities for each gun death. According to a study by Bloomberg, by 2015 firearm fatalities will surpass motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death.

The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School has ignited a debate about gun safety, which is typical after a mass shooting. However, President Obama, in a speech to the residents of Newtown, CT, vowed to do more to stop gun violence. If this is true, he’ll have to take a look at the leading cause of gun deaths — suicide.

Eighty-five Americans are shot dead every day. Of those 53 — or 62 percent — are suicides.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America. You’re more likely to die in an accident and much more likely to die in a hospital suffering from heart disease or cancer. But if you’re going to die by a firearm, it will probably be the result of suicide.

There are 51,438 licensed retail gun stores in America, more than three times the number of McDonald’s restaurants.

Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Gun Policy, told Bloomberg that it’s unclear if gun ownership is linked to violence. But there seems to be a clear link to gun availability, and familiarity with guns and suicide.

Harvard University study conducted in 2007 found that “States with higher levels of household gun ownership had higher rates of firearm suicide and overall suicide.”

Adolescents who commit suicide by firearm generally use the family gun. Veterans have continually demonstrated high rates of suicide by firearm. Suicide by firearm is, of course, much more effective than other methods.

Gun deaths have been slowly rising since 2000, while deaths related to motor vehicles have plummeted since 2007.

Those who oppose further regulation of guns make the argument that guns are necessary for self-defense.

The 2011 study “Guns in the home provide greater health risk than benefit” showed that a gun is more likely to send a family member to the emergency room or the morgue than to ever be used against an intruder.

As the nation considers what can be done about gun violence, the issue of how to protect gun owners from themselves definitely needs to be considered.

 Photo: Reuben Yau via Flickr


  1. RobertSeattle December 19, 2012

    You know somewhere at the NRA headquarters someone is working up a lobbying plan to increase automobile deaths…

    1. greekdish September 14, 2013

      Why would they need to do that? Gun homicides have been dropping for 30 years. No one is going to stop suicides….Japan has twice our rate and they have zero guns.

  2. Tom Moore December 19, 2012

    “As the nation considers what can be done about gun violence, the issue of how to protect gun owners from themselves definitely needs to be considered.”

    I’m doing fine not having anyone protect me from myself. I appreciate the thought but no thanks. 🙂 I will continue to focus on gun-safety and proper training, just like I do with any woodworking tool, automobile, or any other inanimate piece of metal and plastic.

    1. I Zheet M'Drawz December 19, 2012

      I do not believe the issue is you or any any other legal firearms owner. The issue is HOW-TO keep firearms away from the crazies don’t you think?

      If I have to go thru some significant scrutiny before being allowed to buy & keep firearms so be it. I can deal with that.

      It seems that the post morum analysis of each of these last few massacres revealed that the killer was under Psychiatric care. Wouldn’t it make sense that when an individual is diagnosed with some affliction where their mental facilities are impaired that we keep them from buying firearms & ammo? Is the individual taking anti-depresseants, are they suicidal, just plain nuts? Act on the information.

      Yeah yeah yeah your rights to privacy HIPAA & all that. Guess what? You want to walk around with a gun on your person? Then I (and everyone else) want to make sure you’re not a potential prime time news story. You’ll have to sign away part of your patients rights won’t you. Or give up your guns.

      Consider this: IF ObamaCare is amended such that any diagnosis codes for a patient indicate this patient might be unstable then ATF (or some other body) could be notified & they could confiscate all weapons from the person that is suspect.

      It’s not a stretch at all. The technology is there today.

      And while were at it maybe the same channel could be used to indicate that an elderly person has reached a point where driving is no longer a safe issue. Yank their ticket too.

      1. Sand_Cat December 19, 2012

        Tom may not be a problem – he sounds pretty rational – but please don’t try to tell us that all “legal gun owner[s]” are not the problem.

        The prevalence of massive arsenals in private hands, the current availability of guns to virtually anyone, the millions manufactured and sold, the suggestion of “Second Amendment solutions” to political problems: it may not be Tom, and it may not be a lot of people, but somebody keeps electing the legislators and governors, buying one gun after another (if you’re just a collector, why do you need loads of ammo for all those exotic assault weapons?), promoting “stand your ground,” concealed carry, armed airline pilots, teachers, and everyone else, and murdering groups of people for real or imagined slights using these weapons.

        The guns used in Connecticut were legally owned and maintained in the murderer’s home. I suspect this is the case in many of these slaughters.

        And one more thing: it’s none of your (or the government’s) damned business if I decide to kill myself using any means legally to hand so long as I don’t harm someone else in the process.

        1. I Zheet M'Drawz December 20, 2012

          Of course given Americans love of firearms it will take some time to weed out the legal gun owners that are unstable, my suggestion is not a panacea for the entire problem. It took a couple of hundred years to create this problem it’s going to take a bit of time to ‘fix’ it.

          Yes there are gun owners that shouldn’t have them & they’ll lose them over time.

          But I do think you are missing (ignoring) the obvious point which is solving the problem of getting & keeping firearms out of the hands of crazies.

          The nation has had enough of this & either firearms owners must step up & propose some radical legislation that has an impact on the problem (instead of another piece of worthless paper) or the general public will revoke everyones firearms.

          Yup, 2nd Amendment & all that…it’s a sentence on a piece of paper, do you think it can’t be changed? If you answered YES well you’re wrong & if they do change it what are you & the rest of the firearms community going to do? Revolt? Set up your own nation state?

          Tell US, what do you think YOU can do eh?

          The answer is not a thing.

          So unless you want your COLT Python turned into paper clips STOP the yakking about ‘firearms safety’ & talk about peoples safety. No amount of safety training can prevent any of the tradgedies, only keeping the firearms out of the crazies hands.

          And guess what? Given the CT shooting if there is a bonafide crazy in your home, surrender your firearms until they don’t live there any longer. Got a drug conviction, felony, violent crime or domestic? No guns ever & anyone living with you that has guns surrenders them.

          I won’t stand by & let this slaughter be politicized, it (gun ownership) is about to change & radically.

          (This is the place where all the red neck beer swilling Marlboro Men start ranting about their rights…so go ahead & post your bumper sticker slogans. Meanwhile they’re planning on HOW-TO get your guns away from you because you don’t comprehend the problem or the solution & are just plain stupid).

          1. Sand_Cat December 20, 2012

            I don’t own any guns. I must admit that over the last couple of years, the statements of so-called “responsible, law-abiding gun owners” and the resulting legislative actions have kindled considerable paranoia and a strong temptation to purchase some assault weapons of my own and learn how to use them well, not as protection against burglars and muggers, the UN, or even the US government (though the governments elected by those same “responsible people have at least planted the seed), but against those “responsible, law-abiding gun owners.” The most dangerous guy is not the one who wants your wallet or your TV set, or even the odd lunatic with an assault rifle and an imagined grievance: he’s the one who thinks you’ve offended his god or “his” country, however law-abiding and responsible he may appear.

        2. Gale Lett April 9, 2013

          The problem is many people buy firearms for home protection without the slightest idea of how to use them or gun safety. I should be mandatory to attend a basic gun safety course before being allowed to purchase firearms.

  3. I Zheet M'Drawz December 19, 2012

    I don’t really care about mental cases off’ing themselves. It bothers me that they can do it so easily with a firearm.

    Instead of passing more paper Laws (in addition to the 22 THOUSAND we have already) maybe the root of the problem needs to be addressed. That root problem is simple to state:

    Keep firearms out of the hands of mentally ill people.

    Now HOW-TO accomplish this.

    Any suggestions?

    How about using the new medical insurance program, Obamacare as the opponents call it, to keep track of the folks diagnosed as having a mental problem & prevent them from obtaining legally firearms.

    How about one Federal Law pertaining to concealed carry? Why should one be a legal gun owner on one side of an imaginary state border line & a felon if they step over it carrying their firearm?

    Imagine being able to go anywhere with your gun eh? Pretty good bone for the gun owning community if you ask me.

    SO…we need to prevent people that are mentally ill, on pshyotropic prescriptions, druggies, alcoholics, domestic abusers, felons etc. from being able to legally buy a firearm or ammunition.

    SO…if you need a federal license to own a gun you should also be required to present the license to get ammo too.

    We have the tools today to prevent a lot of the gun violence from occuring. Why can’t we use them?

    1. Paul Browne December 20, 2012

      What you don’t seem to consider is that your statement “Keep firearms out of the hands of mentally ill people.” could be taken by a huge amount of your fellow citizens to include you.
      As you stated “I don’t really care about mental cases off’ing themselves.”. That staggering lack of normal human empathy is not the characteristic of a person who should have easy access to a firearm.
      Also “Imagine being able to go anywhere with your gun eh?” is very worrying. Why are you so concerned about your fellow citizens that you feel the need to be armed everywhere you go?
      You are the reason so many people want to see the gun safety laws passed. Think about it.

      1. FredAppell December 20, 2012

        He never said he is a gun owner. You should have read the rest of his comments by clicking on his profile before criticizing him.

        1. Paul Browne December 20, 2012

          It’s his own words I commented on not his non-gun ownership.

          1. FredAppell December 20, 2012

            My apologies Paul, I simply didn’t understand why the two of you were going back and forth when you essentially believe the same thing. If it is the mental illness comments that offended you than yes I can understand where you are coming from. He probably shouldn’t have used the term crazies but he is understandably upset and a bit fed up that people with mental illness tend to commit some of the most horrendous acts of violence in our society. I have also been guilty of having zero empathy for people with mental illness and I will admit to you right now that I don’t like them.

          2. Observing U July 11, 2013

            Just like those disgusting alzheimer patients! always forgetting – they should just kill themselves, right?

            People who are mentally ill are no different from people who are physically ill. The problem is their ability to make decisions is impaired *by an illness*. Letting mentally ill people choose to commit suicide is abuse of the mentally ill.

          3. FredAppell July 11, 2013

            That’s not what I’m talking about…there is a big difference between someone who has Alzheimer’s and Dementia vs. mental illness. I certainly don’t advocate suicide, and euthanasia should only be carried out after all other treatments have been deemed ineffective and 100% voluntarily. It still doesn’t change how I feel about the mentally ill, I don’t have to like them but I’m certainly not calling for their destruction… I don’t like conservatives either, but I respect their right to exist. Since when is it a requirement to have empathy for a person or person’s while still respecting their rights? Morality and empathy aren’t the same thing nor is one required for the other.

    2. Observing U July 11, 2013

      I would never want to live in such a chaotic society where everywhere you go you have to live in fear of a gun accidentally going off. That happened in my city a month ago. Someone killed because someone’s penis was so small they felt they had to carry their gun everywhere they went. Now some stranger’s life is extinguished because that guy had to have his gun and it fell out of his pocket and killed someone’s loved one. Giving guns to humans is like giving guns to apes. “Oops it was an accident oh well”
      SOOOO pro-life.

  4. Sand_Cat December 19, 2012

    The insanity that is our “culture” is what we’re talking about here. The suicides and the armed-to-the-teeth lunatics are mere symptoms.

    1. FredAppell December 20, 2012

      Sand_Cat, you said in one small sentence exactly what the entire problem is. Unfortunately, all of us are guilty and it isn’t endemic to Americans only. It is the entire world. Your short post is one of the most intelligent comments I have ever read on the National Memo.

  5. elizh December 20, 2012

    We would have had one in our family, except the gun didn’t go to hospice with him.

  6. Gale Lett April 9, 2013

    Lol! Please, if someone wants to kill themselves, they will, gun or no gun. Medical malpractice and cancer from smoking kills more people than guns, where’s the outrage about that?

    1. Adam Sinclair April 26, 2013

      Well there’s plenty of outrage about smoking. Also if you are going to discuss things you need to talk about attempts: How many medical attempts end up killing someone by accident? A very small percentage. How many shootings end up with somebody dead? Most of them right?

    2. Observing U July 11, 2013

      WHen you have chocolate sitting in front of you, it is harder to maintain a diet. Look at that real statistics. Having a means to easily and quickly dispatch oneself readily at hand takes away the period of time in which the person contemplating suicide may change their mind.

      What’s so difficult to understand that a weapon of death is absolutely not pro-life?

  7. greekdish September 14, 2013

    More BS. Japan has twice the suicide rate of the US and they have zero guns, Australia has a 22% higher suicide rate, and they banned guns. To claim guns cause people to kill themselves makes them seem as if they are alive and brainwashing people.

  8. Ned Domingo Carlos Pina October 13, 2015

    of course gun ownership correlates to use of gun for suicide. u have to have a gun first to use it on yourself. this proves no causal link. thats like saying people who own cars are more likely to die from car accidents. no duh.

  9. mxmuchacho March 22, 2016

    If people want to kill themselves, I actually find nothing wrong with letting them do that with a gun. I’d rather have them go in this semi-certain and semi-peaceful (relative to other methods) way of suicide than have them jumping off bridges and choking down poison. People should have a right to die if they so choose.


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