Are proponents of Washington initiative using deceptive data?


red-tape-1 Are supporters of a new gun control initiative in Washington State using deceptive data when discussing "gun violence?"
Are supporters of a new gun control initiative in Washington State using deceptive data when discussing “gun violence?” [Dave Workman photo]
Supporters of an “emergency protection order” initiative on the ballot in Washington are on a tour around the Evergreen State, claiming an annual body count from “gun violence” that does not appear to be statistically supported, depending upon one’s definition of that questionable term.

Initiative 1491, according to supporters quoted by KIMA News in Yakima, “is all about empowering families to prevent tragedies before they happen.”

“Every year around 700 people in Washington die facing the barrel of a gun, and it pains me to know we could have done so much more to prevent every one of those deaths,” said Yakima Deputy Mayor Carmen Mendez during a Tuesday media event.

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But wait. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) for 2013 and 2014, Mendez’ estimate is way off base if she is talking about homicides involving firearms. In 2014, according to the UCR, Washington saw only 94 of the 172 reported slayings where a firearm was the weapon.

If one goes to the state Department of Health (DOH) website and looks at some of the links (Tables E4, E6, E8 and E10), it might provide part of the answer. Once again, the gun prohibition lobby appears to be combining suicide and homicide data to inflate their numbers.

So, what is “gun violence?” Is that different from “knife violence” because in 2014, more than two dozen murder victims in Washington were killed with “knives or cutting instruments,” according to the FBI crime data. Forty-two were killed with “other weapons” (i.e. blunt instruments) and 11 were killed with hands, fists or feet.

According to the DOH, in 2014 there were 695 firearm-related deaths in Washington, of which 544 were suicides.

Preventing suicides is a noble undertaking, but instead of an initiative that smacks of gun control, there is already an effort underway that was signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Jay Inslee. It was championed by Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation. Working with Assistant Prof. Jennifer Stuber, Ph.D. at the University of Washington School of Social Work, and State Rep. Tina Orwall, a Des Moines Democrat, they put together the Suicide Awareness and Prevention Education for Safer Homes Act. The National Rifle Association was also involved in that process, and this legislation passed while measures backed by local gun control groups did not.

Simply taking someone’s guns is no guarantee they won’t find another means of suicide, either. In 2014, according to DOH data (Table E6) there were 1,111 suicides. This raises an important question for the gun prohibitionists behind I-1491: Is it more important to prevent a suicide or establish a means of taking away someone’s firearms?

Opponents of the initiative have voiced concerns about due process, which is protected by the 5th and 14th amendments.

A mental health activist named David Combs has posted on-line an interesting perspective on I-1491 that should be required reading.


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