In the state of Florida for the year 2012, there were a significant number of cases where prescription painkilling drugs were the cause of a person’s death.

The drug that caused the most deaths was alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax, which was responsible for 323 deaths. Xanaax is prescribed for anxiety disorders and panic attacks. No one ever died of a panic attack, and anxiety is not in itself a fatal condition. The drug that is most often used to treat it kills 323 people a year in Florida alone. Benzodiazepines, which is the family of drugs that include Xanax, killed 2,622 people in Florida in 2012.

Oxxycodone, which is prescribed by doctors as a painkiller and is sold under the name Oxycontin, kills 392 people in Florida each year. Pain is not a fatal condition, and doesn’t kill anyone.

Prescription drugs account for 80.9 percent of all drug deaths when alcohol is excluded. The CDC reports that 46 (almost 17,000 per year) people die every day from prescription painkiller overdoses.  The rate of death for prescription painkillers is 11.1 per 100,000 for Florida in 2012.

Compare that to homicide: in 2012, there were 721 homicides in which a firearm was used as the murder weapon, for a firearm murder rate of  3.8 per 100,000. (In 2014, there were 687, a rate of 3.4 per 100,000)

I am not saying that we should make prescription drugs illegal. I am saying that we should look at the issues with firearms using a bit of perspective.

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