In any gun control debate, it’s inevitable that someone will make the point that cars are more deadly and, with that fact in mind, gun control advocates should also advocate getting rid of cars. Of course, there are obvious flaws in this argument; number one being that cars are not typically used as weapons. The second is that we live in a country where cars are a necessity. Guns might have been at one point in our past, but for most, they simply aren’t. Still, most gun control advocates do concede that cars are more deadly than guns. However, that statistic is changing quickly and in 10 states, gun deaths have overtaken car deaths.
A murder-suicide Tuesday in the bedroom community of Longmont, CO prompted the Denver Post to do a bit of homework. In 2009, Colorado experienced 583 gun deaths. There were 565 motor vehicle deaths. The Centennial state wasn’t alone. Guns were more deadly than cars in nine other states: Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington.
Nationally, guns haven’t quite overtaken cars, yet, but the numbers are not as far away as one might imagine. From the Denver Post:
Nationally, there were 31,236 firearm deaths in 2009 and 36,361 motor vehicle deaths according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
Every year, car manufacturers have to abide by strict and evolving safety standards. The same can’t be said of guns. As a matter of fact, guns are so deregulated, thanks to the NRA, they aren’t even regulated as a consumer product. In other words, there is no required testing for potentially deadly product flaws.
In the U.S., there are actually fewer cars on the roads than there are guns. In 2009, there were 254 million passenger vehicles and there were roughly 300 million firearms. If one were to look at that statistic in isolation, the fact that gun deaths are on their way to eclipsing automotive deaths might not be so surprising; however, the guns are owned by just 42% of households whereas the vast majority of households own cars.
Fortunately, many, even those who favor no gun control whatsoever, are beginning to come around to at least limited gun control. Setting safety standards on guns would not eliminate mass shootings such as those at Sandy Hook or in Aurora, CO, but it could help prevent accidental deaths. Addressing the mass shootings would require introspection and real laws, two things that gun lovers seem reluctant to accept.