West News Wire: The gunman who shot himself to death in Lewiston, Maine, a week ago left 18 people dead. His rampage seems to have been a suicide that took other people with him, similar to many mass shootings. Suicide is the most prevalent way for people to die by gun in the US; mass shootings receive justifiable media attention, but they account for a small portion of all gun deaths in the country. In other words, the person you’re most likely to kill if you possess or have access to a gun is yourself. Since suicide accounts for 54% of gun-related deaths in the US, having access to a gun significantly increases one’s likelihood of dying in this manner.
This fact which is frequently mentioned but never investigated means that the gun industry is marketing firearms in the same blatantly homicidal manner as the tobacco industry did with cigarettes. It also disproves the claims made in ads and other discourse that firearms offer security and safety. 26,993 of the 48,117 gun deaths in the US in 2022 were suicides. This is a startling statistic one gun death every 11 minutes, or the equivalent of the yearly annihilation of a mid-sized town.
Following the horrific massacre and the two days when people were afraid there was a killer on the loose, gun purchases increased in Maine. It makes sense to want protection, but firearms rarely offer it. Cases in which guns really are used to protect against harm are far, far, far rarer than the gun lobby and the macho fantasies of skillful gun use fed by films and video games suggest. In reality, guns are rarely utilized in these kinds of scenarios, and when they are, they are rarely as useful as the movies portray them to be (and occasionally they are used against the gun owner or to kill bystanders). Even skilled marksmen like police officers frequently miss the targets they are supposed to in combat. Despite the fact that 16 million Americans who own AR-15 assault rifles claim to be doing so for self-defense, the publication The Trace was only able to locate 51 confirmed instances of owners utilizing their weapons for self-defense during an almost ten-year span.
Owners of AR-15s are 74% Caucasian and 81 percent male. The idea that people purchase firearms for protection when the persons they are most likely to use them against are themselves is a terrifying lack of logic. “The evidence indicates that the risk of suicide is three times as high when there is firearm access as when there is not,” the New England Journal of Medicine reports. Less than one-third of American men are white, and they account for nearly two-thirds of gun-related suicides as well as having higher suicide rates overall. “White men are six times as likely to die by suicide as other Americans,” the Washington Post recently stated.
The fact that white males own weapons at higher rates than any other demographic contributes to this. (Although there are other important elements as well, such as social isolation and the manly ideal of self-reliance.) Those who attempt suicide typically do so out of despair, believing they have no other way out of an intolerable circumstance or mental state. Death is not always the genuine or exclusive goal, and not dying does not equate to failure, especially if these attempts are final, hopeless cries for assistance or change. Surviving, however, is far less likely when armed. For both suicide and homicides, including mass shootings, addressing the underlying crises of hopelessness and isolation is important, as is drastically reducing the availability of firearms for those who would use them to take lives.
You could envision the right saying it’s a plot against white guys if the left started promoting weapons. Naturally, however, it is the right that has created a cult around guns, supported lax gun laws, and worked to give guns to mentally ill individuals, domestic abusers, and those under the age of 21. One such example is the mass shooter who killed 18 students and teachers in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, last year using an AR-15-style rifle that he had bought the day after turning eighteen.
Despite the frequently used frontier rhetoric about protecting women, male gun owners regularly use their firearms on female partners and ex-partners. Intimate partners or family members kill half of all female murder victims, and the majority of these killings involve guns.
Of course, there are a great deal of other fatal shootings and mishaps. The gun industry’s enormous success in selling its deadly goods has well-known repercussions: According to a study by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, “in 2022, firearms continued to be the leading cause of death for children and teenagers.” Within the last ten years (2013–2022), this group’s gun-related death rate increased by 87%. According to the same Johns Hopkins study, “from 2019 to 2021, the gun suicide rate increased 10% while the non-gun suicide rate decreased by 8%,” indicating that a significant number of people who took their own lives did so because of guns.
The public dialogue regarding the types of risks and targets posed by firearms ought to take these tragedies into consideration. So it means that guns make us not safe instead we are in danger including the one who possesses it.