As you know, I often mention reports from the Ohh Shoot blog, which chronicles the virtually daily instances of someone doing something accidental with a gun and the associated serious wounding or killing of one or more other individuals. These events are not part of the large number of suicides using guns that happen every year, and they are not part of the large number of shootings related to felonies carried out with the aid of a gun and they are not part of the number of times a person shoots a truly armed and dangerous intruder truly intruding the home (as opposed to a grandchild hanging out on the porch mistaken for an intruder by a trigger happy grandpa). In other words, the steady drumbeat of accidental serious wounding and killing that counts as pure gun-related accident is a small component of the overall problem of gun violence.
Nonetheless it is important.
If a plane crashed and 365 people died in the crash and it turned out that the plane crashed because there were two commercial airline pilots playing chicken, people would notice, people would get mad, people would go to prison, new laws would be passed and new rules would be made, and no one would be saying it isn’t important. No one.
Well, those ca 365 deaths that happen every year in the US because two idiots are playing chicken or because some cop left his private handgun loaded and unlocked on the night stand or because some buzzed dudes decided to practice shooting in the living room of their apartment are the same thing.
So it is important, which is a point I wanted to make here, but not the main focus of this post. Instead, I want to try something a bit fast and loose and dangerous but that might be interesting.
You know that on National Gun Appreciation Day a gazillion responsible gun owners got together to fork over their hard earned money to gun dealers and otherwise play around with their hardware. During this process, a certain number of people have taken bullets or fragments of bullets as various firearms were accidentally discharged. As of this writing, 8 people have been shot. John McKay is documenting this here.
But they all lived, and in fact, I think none of the incidents were serious enough to have made it into Ohh Shoot blog were it not for the connection to the Gun Appreciation Day events. (Even then, I’m not sure if they’ll be covered there or not).
What does this mean? Well, there may be a number, a factor, that we can multiply by the number of near deadly or deadly incidents of the type that seem to happen at a rate of about one per day, to estimate the total number of dumb-ass accidental woundings that happen every day above and beyond the more spectacular ones, when people merely get nicked and don’t bother getting medical attention, or the incident is otherwise not reported.
So far, that number could be around 8, based on John’s data. But really, are we sure that every single event happening at the Gun Appreciation Day is being reported? Maybe we should round up to 10. In any event, we should wait a few days for the dust and smoke to settle, and see what John’s final count is, and consider which cases were serious enough to have been widely reported and to make it into a blog like Ohh Shoot.
At present, it would not be entirely absurd to suggest that between 3,000 and 4,000 events occur in the US each year in which someone does something dumb with a gun, the gun goes off, and someone gets nicked. How many times does something like this happen, the gun goes off, but no one is nicked? I’ll guess ten times that. About 35,000 times a year, somebody does something dumb with a gun and it fires unexpectedly. About 3500 times someone is nicked with the bullet or shrapnel but not seriously injured. About 350 times there is a serious wounding or death. Mostly, we hear about that last category.
Don’t like my numbers, assumptions, or calculations? Fine! Provide your own in the comments.