Muddying The Waters On Firearms Research & Suicides

Opinion By Elizabeth McGuigan

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Muddying The Waters On Firearms Research

USA – -( What happens when a virulent anti-gun activist gets ahold of a journal’s entire October issue?

We get headlines like: Study: U.S. Gun Deaths Surge, Except for Two States With Restrictive Gun Laws, just days after headlines such as: Homicides, other violent crime fell again in 2018, new FBI data shows and FBI: Southern States See Largest Drop in Violent Crime.

What’s the real story here? Did researchers unearth better crime data than the FBI?

Data Tells

Turns out that it doesn’t take much to see how the study’s authors manage to make the news. They simply included suicides in with homicide data. Suicides are tragically rising nationwide over recent years. However, homicides have been on the decline. Since suicides are two-thirds of all firearm-related deaths in a given year, combining the two shows a net increase. The state-specific data wasn’t available online, apart from the sweeping conclusions and a carefully worded methodology that included adjusting the dates until the data fit the pre-conceived narrative. But we do know that suicide rates tend to be higher in rural areas with more risk factors including social isolation, lack of access to healthcare, unemployment and poverty. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the study found higher rates in these areas.

What is a surprise is the authors’ weak and unsubstantiated attempt to connect this with gun control laws in more urban states.

Conflating Isn’t the Cure

There’s no question that the increase in suicide rates is a crisis that must be addressed. The firearms and ammunition industry has partnered with groups like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for this reason. But to come up with ways to help, it’s important to focus on the actual issue, and not misleadingly lump together suicides with a separate – though also terrible – problem of homicides. Our industry knows there are different ways to help address each concern. Even the study’s authors agree. In the final line of the entire misleading report, they write:

“The epidemiology of firearm violence is complex and varies based on the mechanism of death, demographic group under study, and regionally specific culture, making a one-size-fits-all solution inappropriate.”

At least they got one thing right.

National Shooting Sports FoundationAbout National Shooting Sports Foundation

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 10,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers.

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What specific studies?


Suicide by gun is almost a sure guarantee that a person bent on killing themselves is going to be successful. My sister in law used my brother’s handgun to end her life. HER decision was methodically planned right down to the minute details.  Mentally ill people are as diverse and as cunning as any criminal when determined to kill, but instead of the innocent victims demise it’s their own.  Although not believed to be gun savy She was able to get the weapon from an approved locked container, locate the correct ammunition, load it and chamber a round. Her place… Read more »


What the left can’t take in monetary terms, it will take in personal rights. The one saving grace I have in this world, and will always have because no one can take that away, is the right to decide how I will leave this mortal coil. Whether I die of old age, use a gun, commit harikari, take pills, jump in front of a bus, or off a bridge, it’s my choice to make. The problem with all these do-gooders is that they themselves have never been in a position where life can get so bad, and so desperate, or… Read more »


More proof of the hypocrisy of the left. They don’t want people to commit suicide with firearms because there isn’t any money in it for them. They do everything in their power to get assisted suicide laws so there is someone making money for each killing. They were the same way about abortion, the left likes the idea of killing or they would be more interested in preserving life without taking rights away from people. The right to life, the second amendment right and the list goes on. Creating crisis or escalating them is the agenda of those wanting to… Read more »


THEY will include all shootings including justified shootings in THEIR results to create false data.
Suicide is suicide, and should be treated as such. Most people do not commit suicide on a whim. Okay a gun makes it simple, but someone intent on suicide will get the job accomplished with or without a firearm.


How do gun owners go about having the suicide numbers removed from the ‘gun violence’ category? Having them included skews the report.


I’ve read about the attraction that the Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco) has had over 80 years for suicides. The city and state has spent millions of dollars to put nets, rails, and warning signs to prevent people from using the bridge to end their lives. Yet, since 1938 over 1,500 people have ended their lives on bridge and more do it every year. They still can’t stop it even with multi million dollar suicide prevention structures. How are they going to stop it by restricting a small inanimate object like a handgun?