A common statement lately is that guns cause as many deaths as cars. However, it is very misleading.
Think Progress, an incredibly biased organization (yes, both sides of the argument have biased sites) has made a big deal out of the statistics around these lost lives. Think Progress also put out a social media meme to try to make their point. They succeeded in that the vast majority of anti-gun rights advocates made it viral by posting it over and over again. The statistics came from the Violence Policy Center and their… ummm… lack of proper data.
The gist of the discussion is that there are lots and lots of cars, and we see them all the time, and there are far fewer guns and we almost never see guns, yet they cause about the same number of deaths. They point out that there are more people that own cars than people that own guns, and that is right. However, they fail to note that half of US homes have guns.
For once, I actually applauded Mother Jones. They published three key stats for 2010:
- Traffic Deaths: 32,885
- All Gun Deaths: 31,672
- Gun Suicides: 19,392 (this is one of the key stats that has been ignored way too often)
Of course, Mother Jones did not explain the stats very well, and they didn’t dig into them further. Nationally, about 2/3rds of gun deaths are suicides. That leaves about 12,280 non-suicides caused by guns.
There lots of stats that are missing, and they should also include how many of those gun deaths included:
- 397: Number of people killed by guns used by Law Enforcement in 2010 ( to keep the stats in the same year)
- 236: Number of justified homicides involving private citizens using guns in 2010
- ???: Number of deaths involving gang violence. There are no solid stats on this number, but we have evidence from major cities that 30-80% of homicides are gang related.
Taking away those two numbers would give us 11,657. Of course, this number is a way off because other reporting factors around gang violence, but it gives us a better idea of the number of homicides. Notice that I said homicides.
The Real Numbers
If we are talking about accidental deaths and comparing cars to guns, then the numbers are really 35,369 to 505 for 2013.
Guns do not come close to cars when it comes to accidental deaths. Sorry, those are the facts.