Looking at the 2011 prelims "Accidents (unintentional injuries)" comes in at #5 with 122,777 deaths and Intentional self-harm (suicide) is at #10 with 38,285. Assault (homicide) is no longer in the top 15.
Also, Assault (homicide) by discharge of firearms is 11,101 with all other Assault (homicide) totaling 4,852. To give some context to the Assault (homicide) numbers, "Accidental poisoning and exposure to noxious substances" totals 33,554 deaths or about 3x the Assault (homicide) firearm number or 2x the total.
Looking at the stats and what kills us, we spend a lot of time looking at the stuff that is actually going down versus the stuff that is increasing.
Accidental poisoning, for example, is often due to exposure to cleaning chemicals and drugs which have massively reduced illnesses and deaths. Spending more to make them less accessible may actually be self-defeating, in that it could well cause more deaths than it prevents, by making it harder to get and use those things for their intended purpose.
Further, many of the more prominent killers in society have already been the subject of safety campaigns. Cars are massively safer today than they were in the 70s and earlier, as a direct result of safety research and societal effort. As returns on such efforts have been diminishing for some time, the next dollar of safety research or societal effort is quite likely to impact more net lives when directed at a "lesser" killer that hasn't been the subject of as much study.
One must keep those two considerations in mind, when making judgements about whether we're spending an undue amount of time and money on a given threat.
Simply looking at a stack-rank of 'killers' isn't enough.
Looking at the auto stats http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in... I am not sure I would say massive.
But today, we are surrounded by "incident news" without looking at the trend lines. "Incident news" does not look at daily problems as its just noise and not headline friendly. It doesn't have a story narrative.
Risk vs reward is always going to matter. We watch TV and see "gun control" as the story. The long term trend lines for guns are more now than ever, more concealed carry, and less deaths.
Again, the stack rank isn't a bad place to start if you have no other context. But we do. We're well past that point. We all know the NTSB, Auto Companies, Insurance Companies, et al have been hammering on car safety for decades now, have been advancing auto safety about as fast as society will allow and are always conducting newer/better research.
So it remains ill-advised to use that rate (or similar well-studied risks) as some sort of reference point when considering whether a smaller risk is getting outsize attention.
> "The long term trend lines for guns are more now than ever, more concealed carry, and less deaths."
In the 70s, when it became an issue (due in large part to media crusading and 'incident news'), the long-term trends for auto fatalities were also on a downward slope from the highs of the 40s and 50s. Yet, as it turns out, we could still actually do better by allowing research into the issue and taking common-sense precautions.
Similarly with the long term trends around smoking rates, when we finally deigned to allow smoking/cancer/cessation research.
Similarly was Airplane travel, even with a bump from terrorism, the safest way to get from A to B. Yet it remains a good thing that we studied the terrorism 'problem', despite its low risk, and changed air crew procedure and hardened cockpit doors.
And the TSA stuff is nonsense, but it was and remains nonsense precisely because it's not being studied and considered in a sober cost/benefit analysis.
What remains notable about the gun debate in the US, is that we're not arguing about "what to do" so much as arguing about whether to study the problem.
Look at how the trial balloon for the "whether we should study the problem" effort only has some sliver of a chance to succeed, because it's being first aimed at a scapegoat (violent video games). It's not even a direct study of the self-evident real problem (gang violence) or its equally-obvious underlying cause (the war on some people's use of some drugs).
> What remains notable about the gun debate in the US, is that we're not arguing about "what to do" so much as arguing about whether to study the problem.
You must be watching some other debate, I consider new legislation being introduced "what to do".
Well, absent digging into details that neither of us have, that's going to come down to a philosophical position: do you think that trends will continue indefinitely in the absence of any additional efforts to sustain them?
> "You must be watching some other debate, I consider new legislation being introduced "what to do"."
I'm watching the debate where practical political reality says every legislative proposal, other than "study the problem", is trivially DOA due the lobbying power of the NRA and Congress' makeup and existing obstructionist strategy.
> Well, absent digging into details that neither of us have, that's going to come down to a philosophical position: do you think that trends will continue indefinitely in the absence of any additional efforts to sustain them?
I would expect continued downward trend, but it cannot go down indefinitely (limit on flukes). I expect a upswing in the first couple of years of automated vehicles just because new realities tend to make for bad times (see the 1930's) then another sharp downward trend.
> I'm watching the debate where practical political reality says every legislative proposal, other than "study the problem", is trivially DOA due the lobbying power of the NRA and Congress' makeup and existing obstructionist strategy.
Just as I hope the EFF and ACLU will be obstructionist in defending some of the other amendments. The NRA is not powerful by itself. It is powerful because of the number of members. I dearly wish we had an NRA for the 5th amendment, but it seems we are getting beat there very badly. I would say the Senate has been more obstructionist due to their failure at passing a budget. They should remember which house is supposed to be preeminent in that regard.
In other words, the person you are most likely to kill with a gun is yourself.
"The preponderance of current evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for youth suicide in the United States. The evidence that gun availability increases the suicide rates of adults is credible, but is currently less compelling."
1) Their gun in self defense studies http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/gun-thre... have stats that do not match the US Dept of Justice
2) I would love to get ahold of the full study for #13 "The public does not understand the importance of method availability." because it would explain their base beliefs on a lot of the rest of the page.
Consider a family with a youth who accidentally shot themselves. Rather than state that it was an accident, the family tells authorities that it was a "suicide".
Consider a family with an adult that chooses to commit suicide. Rather than state that it was a suicide, the family tells the authorities that it was an "accident".
Is there a good reason to believe that one of these effects is stronger than the other?
That's a great statistical question! If the data skew was proportionally equal in both directions, the two skews would cancel each other out, right?
Unfortunately, we don't know if the data skews towards accidents, or skews towards suicides, or skews towards them both equally. Here is the snarky one-liner answer to your question:
>>>Is there a good reason to believe that one of these effects is not stronger than the other?
We need to be careful: maybe things that are going down are going down because of how much time we have spent looking at them.
On guns, we have more than we had before, so the liberalization (old school meaning) of gun laws has not increased any gun related violence. On the other hand, we spend a lot on educating the public on proper eating. I get the feeling our approach isn't correct given the changes, but I would have to look up some study data.
I guess the goal is to reduce the deaths we can do something about.