Guns don’t kill people, and backhoes don’t dig holes in the ground

On Wednesday, my post about the effect on suicides from widespread personal gun ownership in the United States got a fair bit of attention.

The title distracted a lot of readers from the content of the article, which isn’t surprising. Even for those who read it, there were a few common objections, which are collected here to be answered in more depth.

1. ARGUMENT: ‘The U.S. military doesn’t have a suicide problem. It’s actually lower than the general population when you consider most service members are 18 to 30 years old and male.’

Continue reading Guns don’t kill people, and backhoes don’t dig holes in the ground

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The Second Amendment kills more U.S. soldiers than the Taliban

From 2010 to 2012, more people in the military died from suicide than any other underlying cause. Almost half were people shooting themselves in the United States with their private weapon.

Continue reading The Second Amendment kills more U.S. soldiers than the Taliban

How do U.S. abortion rates compare to natural child mortality?

A focus on death is not an intentional feature of this space, but the topic of prenatal death came up recently based on a conversation with someone about the idea of abortion as genocide.

Since 1973, each year in the United States there have been about one million abortions, give or take. Add that up and you get a very big number that can be insensitively used to make comparisons with The Holocaust.

So to give that perspective the benefit of empathy, let’s assume for a moment that all abortions involve removing from life fully formed persons, able to experience pain and terror and happiness. If all abortions performed in the United States during the past 40 years were actually late-term abortions, how would that compare to being born in the developing world where the leading causes of death for children 5 and younger are pneumonia and diarrhea?   Continue reading How do U.S. abortion rates compare to natural child mortality?

Who is America’s deadliest Predator Drone pilot?

I’m not sure if that’s a question anyone knows the answer to, considering that no one knows how many people total have been killed in drone strikes, although it seems the Obama administration has used them more.

But it’s a cheeky title that goes to what director Michael Moore said about sniping in reference to Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper film about deceased Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.

That got negative attention, but strictly speaking, it’s true. Snipers didn’t used to be considered ‘real’ soldiers. According to the U.S. Army itself in 2002:

Continue reading Who is America’s deadliest Predator Drone pilot?

How often are prison guards killed transporting prisoners?

Eight prisoners and two correctional officers died in an accident near my hometown last week when their bus went off the side of an overpass, onto a moving train. It made national news, and my former coworkers did a great job all day letting people know what was going on as information came out, and putting it all into context by day’s end.

When hearing about a fatal train/prison bus collision, many people made the obvious connection, because that’s how we expect things to work, but the culprit seems to be icy conditions and very bad luck.

I can’t explain why the eight prisoner deaths seem so much more tragic than the two guards. Continue reading How often are prison guards killed transporting prisoners?