Despite the hyperbole generated by groups such as “Moms Demand Action” and “Mayors Against Illegal Guns,” FBI statistics prove we are more likely to be killed by a lightning strike than as the result of a mass shooting.
Columbine, Aurora and Sandy Hook are all battle cries designed to rally the troops into action, and pushing lawmakers into introducing stricter gun control measures. Although mass shooting incidents are unquestionably tragic, they also get perhaps far more attention than they deserve due to their rarity.
The FBI published its “Study of Active Shooter Incidents” in September at the request of President Barack Obama, and under the authority of the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act, to investigate “violent acts and shootings occurring in a place of public use.”
The report indicates that from the years 2000 to 2013, 486 Americans lost their lives in active shooter situations, which works out to approximately 37 deaths per year. Compare that to being killed by what everyone considers that rarest of circumstances–being struck by lightning.
Americans are 38% more likely to be killed by a lightning strike than by an active shooter.
“According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, over the last 20 years, the United States averaged 51 annual lightning strike fatalities,” wrote U.S. Air Force Flight Surgeon Capt. Rocky Jedick in 2012.
OK, fine, but what about non-active shooter situations–those accidental deaths we sometimes hear about when someone fails to take adequate precautions when handling or storing firearms? This is especially tragic when young children are the victims.
After a New York Times blog was published suggesting that parents shouldn’t allow their children to visit the homes of playmates where family members are gun owners, writer John Lott decided to investigate further.
Lott reported in National Review Online:
For all children younger than 10, there were 36 accidental gun deaths [in 2010, the latest year then available], and that is out of 41 million children. Perhaps most important, about two-thirds of these accidental gun deaths involving young children are not shots fired by other little kids but rather by adult males with criminal backgrounds. In other words, unless you send your child to play at a criminal’s home, she is exceedingly unlikely to get shot.
But what of other, perhaps less obvious dangers lurking in and around the home? Lott continued:
Indeed, if you are going to worry about your child’s safety you should check into other, perhaps less obvious dangers lurking in the playmate’s house: swimming pools, bathtubs, water buckets, bicycles, and chemicals and medications that can cause fatal poisoning. Drownings alone claimed 609 deaths; fires, 262 lives; poisonings, 54 lives. And don’t forget to ask about the playmate’s parents’ car and their driving records if your child will ride with them: After all, motor-vehicle accidents killed 923 children younger than 10.
All firearm deaths are tragic and worthy of investigation and debate. But any such debate must be based on honesty, something that’s sorely lacking from the left.