Shot vs. Shot & Killed – The Miracle of Modern Medicine

This post was originally drafted in April.  Bare with me… very current story cited below.

I’ve mentioned before that the shooting to death ratio appears very low to me. Crime stats over at Crime in Chicago suggest that in 2011 2,217 were shot, with 441 dead – 19.9% (ratio of 5:1.)  So far in 2012 we have 2,670+ shot, 532 dead – 19.9% (ratio of 5:1.)  What I have been looking for, and cannot could not find, is what these numbers were in 1975, 1985, and 1995.

In the book Can Gun Control Work, James Jacobs writes in a footnote on pg 8 that, “Nonfatal gun injuries are complicated to compute.  Gary Kleck reasonably estimates the ratio of nonfatal gun wounds to gun fatalities at 3:1 during the 1990’s.”  Jacobs suggest we see Point Blank by Gary Kleck.  A search of Point Blank on Google Scholar does not yield that ratio.

In 1991 Chicago has 927 homicides.  If the 3:1 ratio Kleck cites is accurate that means around 2,781 people were shot in Chicago in 1991.  That’s damn near the exact number we had last year!!

Neat speculation but nothing scientific.

Enter today’s WSJ:

The number of U.S. homicides has been falling for two decades, but America has become no less violent.

Crime experts who attribute the drop in killings to better policing or an aging population fail to square the image of a more tranquil nation with this statistic: The reported number of people treated for gunshot attacks from 2001 to 2011 has grown by nearly half.  …

In other words, more people in the U.S. are getting shot, but doctors have gotten better at patching them up. Improved medical care doesn’t account for the entire decline in homicides but experts say it is a major factor.  …

“Our experience is we are saving many more people we didn’t save even 10 years ago,” said C. William Schwab, director of the Firearm and Injury Center at the University of Pennsylvania and the professor of surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.  …

At the same time [that homicide deaths are declining], medical data and other surveys in the U.S. show a rising number of serious injuries from assaults with guns and knives. The estimated number of people wounded seriously enough by gunshots to require a hospital stay, rather than treatment and release, rose 47% to 30,759 in 2011 from 20,844 in 2001, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program. The CDC estimates showed the number of people injured in serious stabbings rose to 23,550 from 22,047 over the same period.Mortality rates of gunshot victims, meanwhile, have fallen, according to research performed for The Wall Street Journal by the Howard-Hopkins Surgical Outcomes Research Center, a joint venture between Howard University and Johns Hopkins University. In 2010, 13.96% of U.S. shooting victims died, almost two percentage points lower than in 2007. (Earlier data used different standards, making comparisons useless.)


So there!!  I knew I was on to something.

So the next time Rahm and McCarthy are out running their gums about how “safe” everything is and that “crime is down, crime is down!” Now you know that maybe some crime is down… but the odds of getting shot in this town are just about the same as they were in 1991. … Which is not very good at all.