Gun deaths in Oregon

by Dan Lucas

Tragedies like the recent shootings at the Clackamas Town Center and at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut bring people together. We are horrified and saddened at the senseless and tragic killings, and know that everything possible needs to be done to prevent them in the future.

Accomplishing that brings out different ideas and disagreement on how best to prevent these horrific tragedies. That’s where we can have a civil discussion, with the common goal of protecting innocent lives in the future.

It’s clear that in the upcoming congressional session in Washington, DC, and in the upcoming legislative session in Salem, lawmakers will be looking at what can be done. The ideas in Oregon include increasing security in schools, providing armed responders in schools and introducing more gun control.

To aid in the discussion here in Oregon, and to provide context and perspective, I’ve assembled the following data on gun deaths in Oregon.

click to enlarge


click to enlarge


Notes on 2009 gun-related deaths in Oregon:

  • 5 out of 1,577 accidental deaths were gun-related
  • There were a total of 413 gun-related deaths
  • The vast majority of gun-related deaths were suicides (83%)
  • There were more physician assisted suicides than gun-related murders (59 versus 55)

Regarding the use of guns in suicides in Oregon – there does not appear to be a correlation between gun control and suicide rates. Sadly, people wishing to commit suicide appear to change the means when another is restricted. For example, according to the World Health Organization’s data, Japan has a much higher rate of suicide than the United States. In 2011, Japan had the 7th highest suicide rate in the world, and the U.S. was number 38. A 1999 New York Times article on the high rate of suicide in Japan noted “Because gun ownership is severely restricted in Japan, many Japanese resort to throwing themselves in front of trains, hanging themselves, jumping off cliffs or overdosing, the police say.”

Of course, gun-related deaths are just one of many factors in the discussions related to introducing more gun control. Other factors include: how many crimes are prevented by firearms (for example, did a concealed handgun license (CHL) holder end the recent tragic shooting at Clackamas Town Center?, the off-duty sheriff’s officer who stopped a restaurant/theater shooting before anyone was killed on 12/16/2012 when she shot the attacker four times, or the 71-year old man who stopped an armed robbery back in July in Florida, etc.), how effective are gun laws, etc.

One final relevant statistic: there were 152,096 Oregon CHL holders as of April 19, 2012. [UPDATE: There are 163,650 Oregon CHL holders as of Jan 2013]

NOTE: When I did my original look at the relative rates of suicide on 12/19/2012, Japan had the 7th highest rate of suicide in the world and the U.S. was number 38. As of 12/30/2012, Japan now has the 6th highest rate and the U.S. is number 34.

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Posted by at 06:25 | Posted in 2nd Amendment, Federal Government, Oregon Government | 16 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • HBguy

    The 2011 FBI statistics shows that gun crime rates in Oregon per 100,000 are

    Murder: 1.05
    Robbery: 14.57
    Assault: 17.55

    Oregon population in 2011 was 3,871,859 per US Census.

    These statistic don’t even include charges that could include gun violence such as menacing, unlawful use of a weapon, felon in possession of a firearm, or kidnapping.

    Shouldn’t we include the less than lethal gun crimes when weighing the pros and cons?

    • Ron Glynn

      Good Point. Also, let’s weigh in all the crimes which are prevented by civilian use of firearms.
      In addition, the 2011 FBI Uniform Crime Reports show that Washington, DC has a firearm murder rate of 12.46 per 100,000. That city has very strict gun control laws. Obviously, it does not seem to be working there.

      • DavidAppell

        The relevant question is, what would be the firearm murder rate in DC *without* strict gun control laws?

        • Rupert in Springfield

          >The relevant question is, what would be the firearm murder rate in DC *without* strict gun control laws?

          Um, no, it’s not the relevant question. It is the relevant dodge. What you are trying to set up here is a question that cannot be answered. It’s an old dodge. Been there, done that, and anyone at all knowledgeable on the subject had bought that tee shirt a long time ago.

          No, the relevant question here is, did the DC murder rate fall when strict gun control was enacted?

          Or, did gun crime climb when gun control became less restrictive?

          Normally I would say this was a nice try on your part. However with gun control it is such a heavily debated, researched and discussed topic that this kind of dodge is strictly amateur hour.

          • DavidAppell

            No, the relevant question is the one I posed. Your questions compare time periods that are not necessarily comparable, because other variables are always in play (demographics, economics, etc.). Like all epidemiology, it’s a matter of controlling for those variables in order to compare like-to-like.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            David – What you are trying to do is bring up a question that can’t be answered and thus obfuscate the clear conclusion. After all, your nonsense doesn’t control for demographics and economics any better than looking at pre and post bun control enactment and controlling for the factors you mention would.

          • DavidAppell

            The question is: what would the DC murder rate be in the absence of gun control? It can’t be answered ideally, but there are many ways of trying to best answer it, and looking at murders pre- and post-ban is only one way. There are always going to be confounding socioeconomic factors that may be relevant. Is the neighborhood gentrifying at the time of the ban? Collapsing? Is the economy changing in a way that could affect crime rates? Do nearby areas have similar results? Analogous societies? Different police tactics? Drug policies? National gun laws?

            There are a lot of variables. Epidemiologists have developed methods to try and deal with such situations, and a simple before-and-after analysis is only a partial answer.

          • Damascusdean

            But the question can be answered. If the US had gun control policies similar to those in other wealthy nations, then handguns would be much less available and Washington DC gun deaths would be much lower.

      • DavidAppell

        “Gun rights defenders argue that gun laws don’t reduce violence, noting that many cities with high gun violence already have strict gun laws. But this ignores the ease with which urban residents can evade local laws by obtaining guns from dealers outside their cities or states. Effective gun regulation requires a nationally coordinated response.”
        — David Cole, NY Times 1/1/13

  • valley person

    The US has over 30,000 gun related deaths per year, or 10 per 100,000 citizens. Compared with other high income nations, we have far and away the highest gun death rate. other nations have fewer gun deaths because they make it harder to get weapons, particularly handguns purchased for self defense.

    By choosing to elevate the freedom to purchase weapons with few restrictions over conservation of life, we are ending up with many more dead Americans every year than died in the World Trade Center attack. An attack which caused us to go to war, revamp airline security, make torture a federal policy, and encroach on a number of personal privacy rights.

  • zanzara2041

    1. 169,202,000 Murdered: Summary and Conclusions [20th Century Democide]


    2. The New Concept of Democide [Definition of Democide]

    3. Over 133,147,000 Murdered: Pre-Twentieth Century Democide


    4. 61,911,000 Murdered: The Soviet Gulag State

    5. 35,236,000 Murdered: The Communist Chinese Ant Hill

    6. 20,946,000 Murdered: The Nazi Genocide State

    7. 10,214,000 Murdered: The Depraved Nationalist Regime


    8. 5,964,000 Murdered: Japan’s Savage Military

    9. 2,035,000 Murdered: The Khmer Rouge Hell State

    10. 1,883,000 Murdered: Turkey’s Genocidal Purges

    11. 1,670,000 Murdered: The Vietnamese War State

    12. 1,585,000 Murdered: Poland’s Ethnic Cleansing

    13. 1,503,000 Murdered: The Pakistani Cutthroat State

    14. 1,072,000 Murdered: Tito’s Slaughterhouse


    15. 1,663,000 Murdered? Orwellian North Korea

    16. 1,417,000 Murdered? Barbarous Mexico

    17. 1,066,000 Murdered? Feudal Russia

  • zanzara2041

    “This fully referenced report shows the number of people having in-hospital, adverse reactions to prescribed drugs to be 2.2 million per year. The number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections is 20 million per year. The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million per year. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually is 8.9 million per year.
    The most stunning statistic, however, is that the total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is an astounding 783,936 per year. It is now evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US. (By contrast, the number of deaths attributable to heart disease in 2001 was 699,697, while the number of deaths attributable to cancer was 553,251.5)”

    • HBguy

      So, I guess what you’re trying to say is that we need our guns to protect us from Despots and Doctors.

    • DavidAppell

      How many deaths would there be in the absence of antibiotics, medical procedures, and surgeries. Until you consider that, discussions of risk are meaningless.

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