Why We Are Missing The Point About Gun Violence

There is no easy fix for solving the gun crisis, but too often we as a nation have a collective knee jerk
reaction to these problems and try to pass legislation that is rooted in emotion rather than in data. If we can
pass reform that is rooted in data then we can pass policies that actually address the problems the country
faces. The first thing, and most important, is to look at this problem from a new perspective. Too often when we prescribe policy solutions we begin with the preconceived ideology of our choosing and then hope that leads to the preferred policy outcomes. Rather we should identify a preferred policy outcome and work back from there offer up policy solutions to solve the problem at hand. If we begin with the premise that the preferred policy outcome of the greatest good is reducing the number of people killed with guns, and I believe that is an optimal policy solution, then by discussing how to stop mass shootings is addressing the wrong problem.

The sad reality is that these mass shooting gun events are rare, even know the media wouldn't tell you that. In 2012 there were 16 mass shootings that killed 88 people. To put this into perspective in 2012 there were on average 53 gun SUICIDES a day in the United States. In one year alone 27% more people were killed by guns in a suicide in two days then all of mass shootings combined. 

As a public policy expert and consultant in the field of outcomes and program and policy evaluation I have 
been asked the question a lot lately "what can we do about the gun tragedies in this country". I have taken a very data driven, non-emotional look at this policy question and I have concluded if we want to reduce the number overall of gun deaths in this country preventing suicides by gun would have a noticeable impact on the overall numbers, not addressing mass shootings. 

My liberal friends expect me to spout off a number of statistics about how implementing gun control measures will save us all from these events. I don't do that. I talk about the very expensive ways to implement policies of increasing funding for mental health screenings and awareness, explaining to them that gun laws have little to no impact on overall death rates. After all more than half of the gun death annually are due to suicides.  

My conservative friends will tell me we need to have more conceal carry permits and end gun free zones. While I admit to them I think having more guns conceal carried in public could, and I emphasize could, have an impact on the total death tolls of mass shootings, there is unintended consequences and risks associated with letting the public en mass carry guns. Just ask David Waldman about that. Instead I tell them let's not waste time training school and work professionals on how to shoot a gun in a crisis situation rather we should be training them on identifying who is at risk for suicides. After all our preferred policy outcome is reducing gun deaths right? 

We are about to have a national conversation about guns and gun policy in this country. As we always do after a national tragedy like the one on Monday at the Washington DC Navy Yard. If you issue is preventing gun deaths then addressing the gun suicides in this country will have a far more greater impact on the overall death rate than any law banning guns, implementing background checks, arming teachers, or whatever else is being suggested as a solution to the gun death problem. 

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