Guns, Drugs, and Opinions


In 2016, Opioids killed 10% more people than guns did. 40% of the opioid deaths involved a prescription opioid and 40% of the gun deaths were NOT suicide. Semi-automatic rifles and all other rifles accounted for only 374 of the over 11,000 gun-related deaths in 2016. An increase in gun deaths leading to 2016 coincides with the increase in opioid deaths.

Most of the gun-related homicides are gang-related and occur in cities with large gang populations. The numbers of gun-related homicides committed by private people in lawful possession of a gun is infinitesimal, as there is NO data that shows people who comply with current gun laws are responsible for gun-related homicides. Therefore, the current gun laws are sufficient and sometimes excessive to limit law-abiding citizens from committing unlawful homicide.

Opioids were marketed as being safe and non-addictive in the 1990’s. Opioids have killed more people than guns and the numbers of deaths from opioids continues to rise unchecked at an alarming rate, killing many children. There is scant public outcry to regulate opiate availability that compares to the cries for gun regulation. Opiates are not regulated to any degree that reduces the number of deaths they cause, as the deaths from opioids continues to rise and is an epidemic.

People argue for tighter restrictions on semi-automatic rifles when there is a mass shooting but remain silent against the sources of preventable deaths in the United States. Lawfully possessed and used guns are not the source of the mass murders, therefore, restricting lawful holders of guns will have zero effect on preventing mass murder. Targeting one type of gun, the semi-automatic rifle that accounts for less than 3.4% of all gun-related homicide lacks utility for public safety, while criminalizing the owners of one type of gun.

Lawfully possessed and used opiates kill people. Illegally possessed and used opiates also kill people. Public safety is threatened by the use of opioids. Some opioid patients become violent when they are refused opioids. In one case, the husband of an opioid user murdered his wife’s physician when stopped prescribing her opioids. Opioid use and the homicide rate have risen at the same time, leading some researchers to speculate about correlations between the two. There is not conclusive data that the two are linked but there is data to show an increase in drug-related homicide.

Attacks against semi-automatic rifles waste legal and political resources that should focus on preventable causes of death, such as the opioid epidemic, and motivations for homicide related to opioid use and acquisition.

Facts and Sources

Opioid overdoses accounted for more than 42,000 deaths in 2016, more than any previous year on record. An estimated 40% of opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid.

In 2016, there were more than 38,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. About two-thirds of the gun-related deaths in the United States were suicides. An Associated Press analysis of FBI data showed there were about 11,000 gun-related homicides in 2016.

U.S. Rep. John Faso said, “The vast majority of crime that is gun related is committed by people who illegally are possessing that firearm.” PolitiFact New York rated, “His statement is accurate but needed additional information. We rate it Mostly True.”

Almost 9,000 children and teenagers died from opioid poisoning from 1999 to 2016, and annual deaths increased threefold over the 18 years.

Of [the homicides in 2016], 11,004 — or 73% — were committed with firearms, with the rest resulting from stabbings, beatings, strangulations and other means. … Of the homicides by firearm, 65% — or 7,105 — were committed with handguns, 3.4% with rifles, 2.4% with shotguns, and 1.6% with other guns, the FBI says.

Dr Graham, a popular 56-year-old physician … was shot to death … by the husband of a patient whose request for opioid painkillers he denied earlier that day. … In a survey of members of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP) published in Pain Medicine in 2015, 52% said patients had threatened them, usually in the context of opioid medications, and 7% of the threats involved a gun. Sixty-five percent of ASIPP members have had to call security. Almost 3% reported being injured by a patient. And 8% said they carry a gun for protection.

America saw its murder rate rise in 2015, 2016, and, 2017. Meanwhile, an opioid epidemic has led to the deadliest drug overdose crisis in US history — with nearly 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016 (at least two-thirds of which were linked to opioids), up more than 20 percent from the more than 52,000 drug overdose deaths in 2015. … Now, a prominent criminal justice expert says that these two crises may be related. … Other data surfaced by Rosenfeld shows that drug-related homicides are significantly up. While other kinds of homicides increased by between 3% and 5% in 2015, drug-related homicides — meaning killings linked to drug crimes — increased by more than 21% that same year.