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According to the WSJ, yes. According to the Baltimore Sun, no.
The Wall Street Journal over the weekend used Baltimore and the world-renowned Maryland Shock Trauma Center as the setting for a story saying hospital statistics show gun violence nationwide was “soaring,” and that a continuing national decline in homicides in spite of this trend was improved trauma care.
The article doesn’t go into city-specific data. But at least in Baltimore, those findings go against most every measure of crime available, and indeed Shock Trauma’s own statistics.
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Dr. Thomas Scalea, the physician-in-chief at Shock Trauma, allowed the Journal access to the unit, where 24 people were admitted before the sun rose, including five people shot or stabbed. “Violence down?” Scalea told a reporter. “I don’t think so.”
This is not the first time Scalea has been on record questioning whether violence is down. “The violence is getting worse, in my opinion; it’s not getting substantially better,” Scalea said during an appearance on the television show “Square Off.” “The guns on the street are more deadly, and it’s every day for us.”
In fiscal year 2009, which is how the trauma center collects data, there were 414 people from the region treated there for gunshot wounds that were the result of assaults, according to internal demographics reports. That declined to 347 in 2009-2010, and 306 in 2011-2012. That’s a drop of 26 percent.
In comparison, during the 2008 to 2011 calendar years, police statistics show total shootings declined 29 percent — within the margin of error of Shock Trauma’s data.
The Wall Street Journal also said that the national percentage of people who died after being shot has declined two percentage points since 2007 to 2010, to 13.96 percent. Scalea told the Journal that the mortality rate for gunshot wounds at Shock Trauma is about 4 percent, including the patients who are dead on arrival.
In Baltimore, where trauma victims are likely to be taken to Shock Trauma or Johns Hopkins Hospital, police statistics show that of the total number of people shot in 2000, 203 died — about 21 percent. In 2011, 149 homicide victims had been shot, representing 28 percent of all shooting victims.
So here is the narrative. Gun violence is getting worse, so the “experts” say. In case you want to trot out statistics, they have some anecdotal evidence of their own. National trends showing a decrease in homicides are merely due to better trauma care. They’re sure of it.
Got that? But the data in Baltimore, the very subject of the WSJ article, doesn’t support the narrative. Gun violence is down, and just in case you were wondering, the Baltimore Sun shows you that the trauma care is about the same or a little worse, and that the actual number of people who died as a result of gun shots actually went up as a percentage of those who were shot. So in other words, better trauma care isn’t the reason for the decreasing national gun violence trend.
The truth. Destroying the gun control myths and turning the “experts” into liars at every turn.