Shipyard murder-suicide belies Hawaii’s gun trends
The horrific murder-suicide Wednesday at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard occurred in an island state with the lowest rate of gun deaths in the country.
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The horrific murder-suicide Wednesday at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard occurred in an island state with the lowest rate of gun deaths in the country — while an average of 4,200 military veterans kill themselves every year across America.
The violence by Gabriel Romero, a submarine sailor who shot to death two male civilian Department of Defense employees and wounded a third male DOD employee, occurred in a state where overall gun deaths dropped 19% from 2008 to 2017, according to data from the groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
At the same time, overall gun deaths across the country have risen 17%, the organizations said Thursday.
America’s overall veteran suicide rate jumped 33% from 2005 to 2017.
Hawaii also has America’s lowest rate of annual gun deaths: an average of 48 deaths per year.
The overwhelming majority of Hawaii’s gun deaths — 72% — are suicides, according to Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
The groups Thursday applauded a new law that goes into effect Jan. 1 in Hawaii.
In June, Gov. David Ige signed into law a Gun Violence Protective Order bill that will make Hawaii the 17th state, along with Washington, D.C., to enact a so-called red flag law that allows courts to temporarily remove guns from someone in crisis.
Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said similar laws in other states have reduced the risk of gun suicides.
The data the groups released Thursday mirrors a similar study last month that showed Hawaii had the nation’s lowest rates of both overall gun deaths and gun-related homicides during a 10-year period from 2008 to 2017.
The rate means that someone was killed by a gun every eight days across the islands, according to the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.
The organization said Hawaii’s gun record is the result of strong gun laws and Hawaii’s isolation, unlike states with strong gun laws on the mainland that are adjacent to states with looser gun laws.
America’s overall rate of 10.87 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people far outnumbered Hawaii’s rate of 3.38 gun deaths per 100,000 people.
Nationally there were 342,000 gun deaths between 2008 and 2017, while Hawaii had 471 gun deaths, or 1 every 8 days.
By comparison, a gun homicide occurred every nine hours in Texas and every 10 hours in Florida.
Across America, 342,439 people were shot to death from 2008 to 2017, meaning someone was killed with a gun every 15 minutes, according to the Center for American Progress.
“Alaska, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi rank in the top four for highest rates of gun-related deaths, with rates that are higher than 18 gun deaths per every 100,000 people,” according to the study. “In contrast, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Hawaii are at the other end of the spectrum, with rates lower than five gun deaths per every 100,000 people.”
Hawaii also had the nation’s lowest rate of gun-related homicides: 81 in the 10-year-period, for a rate of 0.58 per 100,000 people.
But Hawaii ranked only fourth best in the country when it came to gun suicides, with a rate of 2.57 suicides per 100,000 population.
Across the country, 2 out of every 3 suicides are by a gun.
BY THE NUMBERS
Drop in gun deaths in Hawaii from 2008 to 2017
Increase in gun deaths across America from 2008 to 2017
Annual average number of gun deaths in Hawaii
Hawaii gun deaths that are suicides
Source: Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.