Gun ownership is a lifestyle health risk - not as bad as smoking or obesity, but worse than anything else. We should treat it that way. Unlike guns, cars are 1) subject to product safety laws; 2) all required to be registered 3) required to have licensed operators and 5) all operators must carry insurance; 5) can legally have the Center for Disease Control research related injuries 6) can be prohibited to be operated by people with DUIs or other offenses. If we did all those things with guns, the death rate from gun murders, suicides, and accidents would drop. A lot.
The numbers are very close but guns kill more than motor vehicles. In 2010, there were 35,332 deaths in America due to motor vehicle accidents. There were 606 gun accidental deaths, 19,392 gun suicides, and 16,259 homicides, for a total of 36,257, according to the national Center for Disease Control - see page 23.
A focus on restricting types of weapons, for instance bushmasters or AR-15s, might reduce the casualties at the rarer mass murders like Sandy Hook but wouldn't have nearly the effect on deaths nationwide that treating them like cars would. So those weapon restrictions don't particularly interest me as effective policy solutions.
And about those gun murders: the FBI's 2009 numbers show 70% are committed with handguns, and 53.8 percent were killed by someone they knew (acquaintance, neighbor, friend, boyfriend, etc.) Gun owners are a hazard to themselves and people they know.
Anything more than three rounds isn't hunting, it's jerking off. In my dream world, people could only buy bolt-action rifles with six round magazines, tops. But my real-world proposal is not to further restrict what types of weapons are purchasable, but to require licensing of owners and registration of guns the same as driver licensing and car registration.
3,000 people died on 9/11, and we've spend billions to increase airline security procedures, and taken an hour from everyone who's flown on each flight since then. Guns kills that many every month - 400,000 since 9/11 - and we have not yet managed to make every gun owner take time to get licensed and register every gun, every gun sale.
Gun ownership is a public safety and gun owner responsibility issue. People who justify it as being 'ready to fight tyranny' are delusional and should not be allowed to own guns. They will not stop a police department with armored personnel carriers, much less the National Guard or the Army. And have they never heard of drones?
It is appalling that the gun lobby, fronted by the NRA, has gotten the GOP in Congress to keep the Center for Disease Control from researching gun-related injuries like they do car injuries. They've also kept it exempt from product safety laws, and immune to lawsuits. Cars have become far safer in the last several decades, with per-mile-driven fatalities down 90%. Why can't guns have better safety features?
Only 32% of Americans households own guns, but 89% own cars. As a non-gun owner, driving is the most dangerous thing I do, the most likely to get me killed. If I was a gun owner, it would be the guns. I live in a rural area where people can shoot guns anytime they want, and few are the days when I don't hear gunfire. There's a guy down the road 1/4 mile, in his late 20s, who goes out under his shed in the rain to shoot and blow off some steam with his semi-automatic, squeezing off a dozen shots at a time. Last summer he played a cat-and-mouse game with the local police, driving at 90+ on the freeway and a frightening speed up our gravel road, and got arrested for reckless driving, speeding, etc. He still has his guns.
My father taught my siblings and me not to fear guns, but to use them, have a healthy respect for them, and treat then seriously. They are not toys. Far too many gun owners do not share that sensibility. Far too much lobbying is done on behalf of gun makers to facilitate escape from the responsibilities of gun ownership.