Rather than yell at people on Twitter about things I decided to make some nice pretty graphs about this horrible sad topic.
What comes to mind is Bernie saying that addressing health care coverage would reduce gun violence. So I tested his hypothesis and it seems to work. States with worse health care coverage tend to have higher gun suicides. However, states with higher gun ownership also have higher rates of suicide.
This is health care rating graphed against per capita gun suicides. As the state moves down the rank, the gun suicide rate goes up:
These data were collected by Injury Prevention, Gun Policy, and Commonwealth scorecard.
It is also true that states with less guns per capita have lower suicide rates. Here are firearm suicides (red) showing an increase as you start measuring states where they become more available.
In fact, the highest states in gun ownership all had suicide rates of over 15 per capita. New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, West Virginia, Idaho, Arkansas and Alaska averaged 20 suicides per 100,000 people. In comparison the least armed states: Delaware, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire averaged 10.
The second dip is at Hawaii which has a medium-high amount of guns, but strangely a very low gun suicide rate. Even general suicide rates it ranks inside the lowest 13 states (although their prosecutor is rightfully concerned regardless).
This is likely because as guns become more available, guns move from 30-50% to 50-75% of all suicides:
So while still having guns, that slump you see at 16% is Hawaii keeping guns away from at least some people who want to shoot themselves. According to Wikipedia:
Acquiring a firearm in Hawaii requires a permit to acquire, issued to qualified applicants by the county police chief. There is a minimum 14-20 day waiting period for receiving a permit. A separate permit is required for each handgun(s) transaction to be acquired (valid for a period of 10 days), while a "long gun" permit can be used for any number of rifles or shotguns for a period of one year. In addition to passing a criminal background check, applicants must provide an affidavit of mental health, and agree to release their medical records. First time applicants must be fingerprinted by the FBI (fee applies). When applying to acquire a handgun, a handgun safety training course affidavit or hunter's education card is also required.To put it another way, if Hawaii somehow jumped to the gun suicide rate of Wyoming and Alaska, it would be about 3,700 more gun suicides (15.7/1.99 = 7x , 7x339 is 4129 total).
If it can be proven that policy changes will threaten or help people it should become a bigger part of our project. There will need to be less appeals to archaic readings of the 2nd Amendment and simply just what works.
Citing Harvard isn't my favorite thing to do but they did map this out as well.
Running this the opposite way: supposing the United States adopted Hawaii's more strict gun-buying rules that prevented gun suicide? Using again a rough back-of-the-envelope calculation that does NOT account for states with similar gun laws to Hawaii, but simply assumes they produce similar results, Hawaii's background check implemented nationally could save close to 15,000 lives: