In January, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, President Obama issued a “Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence,” along with 22 other “initiatives.” That study, subcontracted out to the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, was completed in June and contained some surprises for the president.
Obama had announced at the beginning of the year his push for three major gun control initiatives — universal background checks, a ban on “assault weapons,” and a ban on “high-capacity” magazines — to prevent future mass shootings, no doubt hoping that the CDC study would oblige him by providing evidence that additional gun control measures were justified to reduce gun violence. On the contrary, that study refuted nearly all the standard anti-gun narrative and instead supported many of the positions taken by gun ownership supporters.
For example, the majority of gun-related deaths between 2000 and 2010 were due to suicide and not criminal violence:
Between the years 2000-2010 firearm-related suicides significantly outnumbered homicides for all age groups, annually accounting for 61 percent of the more than 335,600 people who died from firearms related violence in the United States.
In addition, defensive use of guns “is a common occurrence,” according to the study:
Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.
Accidental deaths due to firearms has continued to fall as well, with “the number of unintentional deaths due to firearm-related incidents account[ing] for less than 1 percent of all unintentional fatalities in 2010.”
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