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Herd Immunity and Gun Control – Stopping the Epidemic

2nd Amend.

Herd Immunity and Gun Control – Stopping the Epidemic

Many government and healthcare officials – usually government healthcare officials – have recently called for stricter gun control legislation, claiming we have an ‘epidemic’ because ‘thousands of lives are being needlessly lost to gun violence’. As a student and soon-to-be graduate student in the healthcare industry, I don’t think that term means what they want it to mean…

First, let’s define epidemic. The term is used to refer to any situation where the level of disease is substantially higher than is expected in a population during a specific time period. What does that mean? The CDC reckons the expected number of deaths from the flu in any given season would be anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000, depending on the strain of influenza. The average would be about 36,000 deaths, and so anything much over the high-end estimate of 49,000 would constitute an epidemic. In other words, it would be a much higher-than-expected level of lethality. (For the statistical breakdown and explanation of how it’s calculated, click here.)

If we measure by the CDC’s own standards then, gun violence and firearms-related deaths in America do not, in fact, constitute an epidemic. Even with the much-publicized-though-statistically-insignificant shootings of 2012, violent crime seems to be on a continual downward trend in recent years — which means it’s actually below the expected levels.

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