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 Firearm Accident Trends 
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 Post subject: Firearm Accident Trends
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 12:52 pm 
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http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2006/02/26/opinion/opinion1.txt

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Actually, firearm accident trend is good - Sunday, Feb. 26, 2006

SUMMARY: Gun accidents that don't happen deserve some attention, too.

Even if the news media found it easy to resist the temptation to pepper Dick Cheney (and they don't find it easy), the vice president's recent hunting mishap would have made headlines. After all, it's just not that often that vice presidents of the United States shoot people. It's only happened twice.

The first time also involved a Republican, but it wasn't an accident. Vice President Aaron Burr shot former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. Unlike Texas attorney Henry Whittington, whom Cheney accidentally sprayed with small birdshot on Feb. 11 while hunting quail, Hamilton died of his wounds. Whittington lived.

Naturally, in the rare instance when the vice president shoots someone, it's going to make headlines.

Less likely to attract notice is regular people not shooting someone. In a way, though, that's a more interesting and important story.

Hard to find amid the barrage of reporting following Cheney's bad shot was any mention of the fact that accidental firearm deaths in America have actually become less common, statistically, than vice presidents shooting people.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun-industry group, this week points to new statistics showing accidental deaths involving firearms comprise less than 1 percent of accidental deaths or about 700 deaths a year nationwide in 2004, the most recent year studied. It cites a recent report from the National Safety Council, a nonprofit public service organization, showing an amazing 48 percent decline in accidental firearm-related deaths in the past decade. According to the National Safety Council, which keeps tabs on accidents in its “Injury Facts 2005-2006” publication, no other category of accidental death has declined as much in recent years.

NSSF credits safety programs like Project ChildSafe, run in cooperation with the U.S. Justice Department, involving the distribution of millions of information-filled safety kits and trigger locks; outreach programs in schools; and hunter safety programs.

The most authoritative survey of gun ownership we've seen, a 1997 report by the National Institute of Justice, estimated 44 million Americans own

192 million firearms. Another way of looking at firearm accidents is that 43,999,300 of 44 million gun owners didn't accidentally shoot anyone in 2004.

Still totaling more than 700 deaths nationally, accidental shootings remain too numerous and, of course, senselessly tragic. But, statistically, Americans have a 1 in 23 chance of dying by one accident or another - such as falls, wrecks, choking - but a 1 in 4,888 chance of dying in a firearm accident according to the National Safety Council. That's about the same chance of dying in a fall from bed, a chair or other furniture (1 in 4,745) and nearly one-eighth the odds of being killed by a vehicle while walking (1 in 612).

The point is, accidents happen, but firearm accidents not so much - at least, not as much as you've been led to believe.

Yes, it's big news every time a vice president shoots someone. It also should be news when fatal firearm accidents nationwide are reduced by half.

_________________
"Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society's understanding."

"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." - Sigmund Freud


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