Avoyelles ranks above state average in gun ownership, deaths

Where there are a lot of guns, there are a lot of deaths caused by guns. When there are fewer guns available, fewer people are killed by them.

The above is a common sense observation. Just as true -- but less likely to provoke a spirited debate on constitutional rights -- is that in areas with a lot of bulls, there are more deaths caused by bulls.

The difference between the two is that death by bulls is not considered a national epidemic. Deaths by bullets are.

There are several studies online that look at gun ownership rates and gun deaths per 100,000 population. One recent report looking at the connection between those two statistics concluded that states with “weak” gun ownership regulations had more gun-related deaths in 2017.

About 49 percent of Louisiana households own at least one gun, the Violence Policy Center reported. The Bayou State’s 21.52 gun-related deaths was the 4th-highest in 2017.

Avoyelles Coroner Dr. L.J. Mayeux said he has not conducted an official survey of all gun-related deaths this past year, but he estimates the parish’s rate based on a per-100,000 population calculation to be at least 26.0 -- above the state average.

“Most of our suicides are with firearms,” Mayeux said. “Most of our homicides are also committed with guns.”

In any given year there may also be unintentional shooting deaths resulting from hunting accidents and household accidents, “but mostly the gun-related deaths are suicides and homicides.” the coroner added.

There is no official estimate on gun ownership figures in the parish, but it is also likely to exceed the state average due to the popularity of hunting and shooting sports in this area.
High and low

The states with the highest gun-related death rates were Alaska (24.33), Montana (23.23), Alabama (23.06), Louisiana (21.42) and Missouri (21.38). Mississippi was sixth (21.18), Arkansas 7th (20.40) and Wyoming 8th (19.51).

On the other end of that list is Hawaii (2.73), Massachusetts (3.82), New York (3.89), Rhode Island (4.06) and Connecticut (5.24). In 45th place was New Jersey (5.31) and California (8.05).

Wild and wooly Texas was 30th with a 12.41 rate while Illinois, home of Al Capone’s Chicago, was 33rd at 12.05.

In short, based on this report, residents of New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Jersey City, Chicago, Dallas and Houston are less likely to be killed by a gun than those living in Avoyelles Parish and elsewhere in this state.

The five states with the highest gun-death rates have gun ownership rates of over 43 percent.

The five states with the lowest gun-death rates have gun ownership rates of less than 5.5 percent.

NATIONAL STATISTICS

Nationwide, the number of Americans killed by gunfire increased from 38,658 in 2016 to 39,773 in 2017. The nation’s gun-death rate increased from 11.95 per 100,000 pop. in 2016 to 12.21 in 2017.

Another online report, based on 2014 figures, by demographicdata.org notes the U.S. has 4.6 percent of the world’s population and up to 50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned firearms.

It has the highest gun-related death rate among developed countries, 11.4 in 2014 -- which was comparable to Uruguay’s 11.52 rate. In that report, Louisiana led the nation in gun-related deaths with 890 killed by firearms for an 18.9 rate.

“Year after year the numbers reflect the same undeniable fact: states with fewer guns and strong gun laws have far lower rates of gun death,” VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand said. “Gun violence is a growing public health crisis that demands immediate attention from policymakers on Capitol Hill and in statehouses across the country.”

State gun-death rates are calculated by dividing the number of gun-related deaths by the total state population and multiplying the result by 100,000 to obtain the rate per 100,000.

The VPC defined states with “weak” gun violence prevention laws as those adding little or nothing to federal law and with permissive laws governing the carrying of open or concealed firearms in public.

“Strong” gun violence prevention laws are those adding significant state regulations to gun ownership regulations, such as restricting access to assault weapons and other specified types of firearms, setting minimum safety standards for firearms and/or requiring a permit to purchase a firearm, and restricting the open and concealed carrying of firearms in public.

The VPC report cited Michael Siegel’s October 2014 article, “The Relationship Between Gun Ownership and Stranger and Nonstranger Firearm Homicide Rates in the United States, 1981-2010,” printed in the American Journal of Public Health.

Siegel noted his research “found no robust, statistically significant correlation between gun ownership and stranger firearm homicide rates. However, we found a positive and significant association between gun ownership and nonstranger firearm homicide rates.”

He concluded that his findings “challenge the argument that gun ownership deters violent crime, in particular, homicides.” 

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