After yet another mass shooting, this time in Oregon, President Obama challenged the nation's reporters — and by extension the general public — to look long and hard at the statistical truth about guns and deaths in America.
The number of deaths caused by guns versus deaths caused by terrorism was one example. If that's of interest, The Fix dealt with that here. The numbers are staggering.
But what's also pretty lopsided is the way gun violence affects different segments of the population.
First, let's take a look at the role of gun deaths — that's suicide and homicide by gun combined — in the nation's most recent verified mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The only form of violent death excluded from the data below are those caused by "law enforcement actions" (because this data is woefully incomplete). What the graphic and chart below makes clear is that guns are involved in the bulk of the nation's violent deaths and a remarkable share of all deaths.
But while guns account for a similar portion of each race's deaths and violent deaths, the racial differences when it comes to suicides and homicides are key.
Suicide ranks among the top 10 causes of death for white men in America — specifically, No. 7 — and guns are the most common device used to achieve that tragic end. For black men, homicide ranks among the 10 leading causes of death, coming in at No. 5. Again guns play an outsized role.
And while white men are about eight times as likely to kill themselves with a gun than be killed by someone using a gun, black men are about six times more likely to be shot and killed by someone other than by themselves.
Among Latino men, both suicide and homicide rank among the 10 leading causes of death, occupying the eighth and ninth slots on the list. And the grim pattern also holds for Asian and Native American men too. Suicide, most often by gun, is the eighth leading cause of death for Asian men and the sixth leading cause of death for Native American men.
And in case you are wondering, neither suicide nor homicide rank among the leading causes of death for any group of women in the United States. In fact, for nearly 15 years, suicide has occupied a slot in the top 10 causes of death for all American men. And homicide occupies different slots in the top 10 causes of death for every group of men between the ages of 1 and 44. Guns, it seems, are much more likely to kill American men, regardless of context.
Behold the leading causes of death for all males in the United States between 1999 and 2013, the most recent year for which CDC data, verified by death certificates and other info, are available.
Guns are much more prevalent in the United States and kill many more people than in other countries. You have heard that before. But understand that they are especially lethal forces in very different ways for different groups of men.
Correction: Due to an editing error, this post initially said white men were twice as likely to be killed by a gun suicide. It and the headline have been fixed.