An anti-violence group aimed to debunk a popular counterpoint by pro-gun advocates that compares car deaths to gun deaths. The rationale behind the argument is that both items are deadly in the wrong hands, but the gun industry is criticized for an individual’s malicious use of a firearm whereas an individual is blamed for malicious use of a car.
The study, released days before the National Rifle Association’s annual convention, by the Violence Policy Center finds that gun deaths surpass motor vehicle deaths in 17 states and the District of Columbia, which include:
- Alaska: 144 gun deaths, 66 motor vehicle deaths
- Arizona: 941 gun deaths, 863 motor vehicle deaths
- Colorado: 619 gun deaths, 514 motor vehicle deaths
- District of Columbia: 71 gun deaths, 30 motor vehicle deaths
- Indiana: 857 gun deaths, 840 motor vehicle deaths
- Louisiana: 886 gun deaths, 767 motor vehicle deaths
- Maryland: 578 gun deaths, 531 motor vehicle deaths
- Michigan: 1,190 gun deaths, 1,063 motor vehicle deaths
- Missouri: 880 gun deaths, 781 motor vehicle deaths
- Nevada: 395 gun deaths, 281 motor vehicle deaths
- Ohio: 1,289 gun deaths, 1,144 motor vehicle deaths
- Oregon: 462 gun deaths, 363 motor vehicle deaths
- Pennsylvania: 1,451 gun deaths, 1,340 motor vehicle deaths
- Tennessee: 1,030 gun deaths, 1,027 motor vehicle deaths
- Utah: 339 gun deaths, 234 motor vehicle deaths
- Virginia: 864 gun deaths, 780 motor vehicle deaths
- Washington: 632 gun deaths, 540 motor vehicle deaths
- Wyoming: 102 gun deaths, 92 motor vehicle deaths
VPC says it reviewed figures from 2013, the most recent year that offers comprehensive state-level data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Delving deeper into the numbers, the study shows nationwide gun deaths total 33,636 and deaths by motor vehicles total 35,612.
Additionally, the group says more than 90 percent of American households own a car while fewer than a third of American households own a gun.
The group advocates increasing federal regulations on the gun industry — which was once done to the car industry with success — to reduce overall gun injuries and deaths, and blames groups like the NRA for preventing lawmakers from implementing such measures like more safety controls on firearms, bans on assault weapons and junk guns, prohibiting persons convicted of a violent misdemeanor, and more.
“The time has come to stand up to the NRA and its corporate sponsors in the gun industry and regulate firearms for health and safety, just as we regulate motor vehicles and all other consumer products,” said Josh Sugarmann, VPC executive director.
However, economist Dr. John Lott, who has penned a number of controversial studies that resulted in pro-gun results, argued in January, when the CDC released the data, that gun deaths surpassed car deaths not because of regulations, but mainly because of financial hurdles.
“There’s a much more prosaic explanation: during the recession and anemic recovery, people drove less. Higher gasoline prices continued to make people cut back on driving,” Lott says in his column on Fox News.
Fewer drivers means fewer car accidents and fewer vehicle-related deaths.
Lott also says the number of gun deaths per year has risen due to an increase in suicides, which are intentional self-inflicted deaths. Suicides often account for roughly two-thirds of all gun deaths.