Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Gun deaths: Whites, 77 percent suicides; Blacks, 82 percent homicides

The gun control debate often plays out in monolithic fashion in this country, according to the Washington Post's Christopher Ingraham. The traditional understanding is that there's one overarching problem — gun violence — that can be addressed by a more or less uniform set of solutions: better background checks, improved technology, etc.
This approach makes a lot of sense. Many researchers argue that we should treat gun violence as just as much of a public health issue as a criminal justice one. That is, after all, the way we successfully reduced deaths from things like automobile accidentscigarettes and the like.
But one shortcoming of this approach is that it elides over the sometimes drastic differences in how different populations experience gun violence and gun ownership in their lives. The Brookings Institution's Richard Reeves highlighted one stunning example of this in a recent blog post: Among whites, 77 percent of gun deaths are suicides. But among black Americans, 82 percent of gun deaths are homicides.
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