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I put the following statistics together because gun advocates I discuss Second Amendment issues with kept bringing up two things: first, the fact that a gun is an object and requires human agency to be used, and second, that other objects that also require human agency are also used to commit murder and cause accidental death. Both those things are true. So just how dangerous is it to use a gun versus a car?
Accurately Comparing Death Rates from Motor Vehicle and Firearm Use

All vehicle statistics obtained from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Center for Disease Control. Firearms statistics obtained from CDC, except for number of rounds fired, which is estimated at the high end from a variety of sources based on estimates of the number of rounds sold (high estimate reduces the rate shown of death through gun use).

Number of registered motor vehicles in U.S. (cars, trucks, and buses): 300 million

Total number of miles driven in U. S. per year: approximately 3 trillion

Number of vehicular homicides annually: 300

Number of suicides committed with cars annually: approximately 20,000 (mostly through carbon monoxide poisoning)

Number of accidental vehicle deaths annually: approximately 30,000

Total number of annual deaths involving the use of motor vehicles: approximately 50,000

Deaths per mile of motor vehicle travel- 1 per 60 million (60,000,000)

Number of privately owned firearms in U.S: 270 million

Number of rounds fired per year: 12-15 billion

Number of homicides committed annually with firearms: approximately 11,000

Number of suicides committed annually with firearms: approximately 20,000

Number of deaths caused annually by accidental gun discharge: 500-1000

Total number of annual deaths involving the use of firearms: approximately 32,000

Deaths per round fired- 1 per 475 thousand (475,000)

Guns are far more dangerous to use than cars- by several orders of magnitude. They’re also far more dangerous to use than hands, feet, clubs, knives, hammers, or blunt objects, all of which are used many trillions of times a year to do all sorts of things, the least frequent of which is to kill people.

Originally posted to fiddlecraig on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:02 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm Wondering How Miles Compares to Rounds? (6+ / 0-)

    Would comparing rounds to passenger-trips make more sense?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:15:05 AM PST

    •  Miles/passenger trips (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino, Oh Mary Oh, Glen The Plumber

      I thought about that, but I posted this in hopes that people would find it useful when this came up in debates, and formulated it to be as favorable to guns as possible so as not to expose those who want to cite it to accusations of cherry-picking data. I figured a use-for-use comparison would be clearest. And when you look at the spread- 1 death per 60 million vehicle miles driven would suggest that car regulation works pretty well...

      •  I remember, during the Vietnam War (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sandino, Cedwyn, myboo

        People would defend the war by comparing the numbers of Americans killed in Nam to the numbers of Americans killed in car crashes.  I admit I didn't understand the comparison.

        "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

        by Navy Vet Terp on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:45:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  They don't, of course. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      denise b

      And as with any "cost/benefit" ratio you have to quantify both (almost impossible in this case since the "benefits" are so different, and especially in the case of guns, intangable) for any meaningful comparison.

      For any given individual the question is different . . . starting specifically with "am I in greater danger of being killed by someone with a car or with a gun?"  That question is independent of whatever benefit the car operator or gun owner derives . . . it is simply an assessment of personal risk, and it can vary considerably with circumstance.

      And on the "benefit' side it's complicated too . . . the use of an automible gives greater freedom of movement than walking or public transit, but also has expenses in addition to the risk to others.  Possessing firearms (usually justified to be for "self defense") presents a less tangible (and clearly less frequently realized) "benefit" that has nothing to do with the number of rounds fired . . . most gun owners would probably express it as a sense of safety or security provided by the firearm, and would discount any risk posed by their gun to others.

      For myself (given my location and demographic) automobiles represent a far greater threat of involuntary death or injury than guns do, and that has to be weighed against the aggregate benefit to other drivers, and the benefits I accrue from driving myself (which also has to be weighed in the social context . . . I wouldn't get those benefits if others didn't have them as well).

      My guns . . . well . . . that's a different story . . .

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:39:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Let's talk about Public Transit that *works* (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        isabelle hayes

        there isn't any, that I know of; even in NYC the cops have cars and the hospitals run ambulances.

        But working public transit would suffice for first-responders' needs, if it did exist. That means that if public transit were adequate to the needs of a city, from any place in it to any other place in it could be done in no more than 10 minutes more by public transit than by private car.

        Think about the jobs we could create in building that.
        Think about the benefits to the commuting and traveling public, if we went to streetcars or subways at that level of urban saturation, and if we build maglevs between cities. Think about the gasoline and diesel savings and the impact on pollution.

        Make public transit available, widespread, and attractive -- wifi on the cars, decent seating, access for wheelchairs, weatherproof stops / stations, week-long passes you could buy or recharge over the Internet. The time between home and school or work could be far less stressful.

        Hire cabin crews and maintenance personnel; build the streetcars or subway cars here in the States. You could revive the economy -- and it would be a lasting revival, because reaching the level of adequate public transportation that would, 24/7/365, make transit an affordable and useful alternative to driving would take decades to finish.

        Think about the numbers of lives we could save if we eliminated DUIs and driving while on a cell phone or texting -- your chances of being run over by a phoning/texting driver, now, are about equal with your chances of being run over by a drunk driver, and it's been proved that the texting / phoning drivers are at least as impaired.

        You could save about 30K lives a year, by the figures the diarist has given, as a side benefit. Worth doing?

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:21:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Tri met (0+ / 0-)

          in PDX

          "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

          by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:46:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  You're mixing apples and pears, there . . . (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LilithGardener, denise b

          you're not going to get concrete delivered by public transit either . . . there will always be examples to offer justifying point-to-point transportation facilities for some specific purposes, and others where aggregation of passengers into specific transit corridors is more efficient.  But whatever the circumstance or mode if the means chosen is killing people that needs to be fixed.

          Regarding automobile use I think we are far to lax in safety requirements, and favor restrictions that would have at least some civil libertarians up in arms.  I have no problem with "red light cameras", think all vehicles should carry a transponder that reports their speed at all times, and would require that a valid driver's license be inserted in a slot in the dash for the car to operate at all, and it should collect a record of erratic driving behavior for examination on renewal.  I have no quarrel with people who have a high tolerance of personal risk . . . they can go to the race track or go sky diving all they want.  It is when their behavior increases public risk that I find intervention justified.

          Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

          by Deward Hastings on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:55:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Your suggestions would have enormous (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Oh Mary Oh

            impact on the prevention of vehicle injuries and deaths.

            Unfortunately, a far cheaper option can't even be made into law. That is, the lights to go when the engine is turned on.

            Better visibility, especially for dark colored cars, will have a big impact to reduce collisions.

          •  And a compromise could be that transponder (0+ / 0-)

            is only accessible to the vehicle owner, unless the car is involved in a collision, at which point the police or any injured party could petition a court for access.

            That would be a useful tool e.g. for parents, if for some reason they need to supervise their teen driver's behavior on the road.

          •  I thought this might suss out some details (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            you and I have been conversing awhile on the risks of firearms in private hands. I thought maybe you had some urges to restrict other people's freedoms in ways that don't touch on firearms.

            You actually frighten me. To whom would those reports of speed be sent for review? Cops? Employers? Bankers? Spouses? Insurers? What if I were hurrying to take a family member to an ER after an accident at home? (bike wreck and broken glass have caused me, twice in my marriage, to have to do exactly that -- and arterial bleeding is not compliant with waiting half-an-hour for an ambulance, with the hospital five minutes away by car). What if I were dodging dogs or cats or wildlife in the roadway, or wreckage / debris fallen from a vehicle somewhere ahead of me, as happened last night? The "erratic" and "speed" reports must be in context, I think.

            Note that I said public transit. I'm speaking of moving people -- even in times of high stress. We'd still need ambulances and fire engines and concrete trucks and animal-control vans; but we'd have alternatives for, as one example, the network specialist summoned at 0200 to a power-outage in a data-center miles from home, for a problem not fixable remotely.

            I'd be for long-distance delivery of cargoes by train as well. Compare the fuel used per ton of rail-delivery with that of truck-delivery, and see why... not to mention the ability to send someone along to watch live or fragile cargo, not easily done in a semitrailer.

            If we could create infrastructure that would last, reduce pollution, open up non-outsourceable jobs, and improve the quality of life for everybody who has to commute, where's the downside?

            I can think of several costs we'd save, among them the more-than-$100 parking fee many employers now charge annually.

            LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:28:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  "people's freedoms" are fine (0+ / 0-)

              until they start hurting other people.

              I have absolutely no use for people who believe that they have a "right" to put other, non-consenting, people at risk . . .

              Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

              by Deward Hastings on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:57:08 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Reports need not be sent anywhere - could (0+ / 0-)

              be the private property of the vehicle owner, and only available by petition to others, with court review, (police, parent of a teen driver, insurance company) AND only in the event of a vehicle accident, or several of a few other reckless driving behaviors.

              I also identify with your concern. If people started voluntarily handing over their car record, could an employer, for example, require access to your car record before offering you a job?  Yes, scary unintended uses.

              But it's baffling to me why we can't have lights on when the engine is running.

              •  I don't understand, LilithGardener (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                aren't automatic lights standard?

                LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

                by BlackSheep1 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 01:40:52 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think they are on motorcycles, but they (0+ / 0-)

                  certainly are not automatic on cars. Have no idea about trucks.

                  •  I figured it was just 'cause mine's a '97 (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    I know they started standardizing 'em around 2000 on Chevys ... "daytime running lights."

                    I personally hate 'em. Here in Texas you're supposed to run your headlights in daylight if there's sand, rain, or you're in a funeral procession. We are supposed to pull to the side and let the funeral pass.

                    It's  hard to tell, now, where that is, especially if there's no LEO escort.

                    LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

                    by BlackSheep1 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:04:45 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  There are no "issues" of any sort (0+ / 0-)

              to a in-vehicle transponder . . . try explaining to your local ATC why your Gulfstream doesn't have one, and why you are practicing "evasive maneuvers" over downtown wherever-you-are.  We have a "social agreement" (enforced by laws) that governs aircraft operations that translates quite readily to automobiles.  Transponders reporting real-time are included in that . . .

              Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

              by Deward Hastings on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 07:04:21 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Actually the New York public transit system (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          moves an average of 8 million riders per day. For a system that is more than a hundred years old, it's performance is pretty good. The stations and tunnels are also interesting venues for some of the arts (mosiacs, musicians).

          In NYC, despite the reputation for aggressive and crazy driving, there are relatively few vehicle injuries, even with the various hazards:

          millions of sleep-walking pedestrians,
          thousands in wheelchairs or other ambulatory aids,
          thousands of cars,
          thousands of trucks,
          hundreds of buses,
          dozens of horse-drawn carriages,
          dozens of pedicabs,  
          many bicycles all using the same streets,

          Most ferries in NYC do not take cars so I did not include them.

          •  what if NYC's system (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            or one a notch better -- to carry those folks with ambulatory aids, for example? -- were available to everyone?

            What if we could actually make it an attractive alternative to cars?

            LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:30:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's already law on buses, but not all (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              subway stations have elevators.

              Making it attractive requires population density. Housing prices will go up if you build a transit hub that links people to where they want to work.

              •  I've been reading Sherlock Holmes & (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                re-watching the Jeremy Brett dramatisations (Brit spelling) -- housing density like London's at the turn of the 20th Century might be roughly what we see in the Great Urban Northeast, or most of it, today, no?

                Cabs were what Holmes and Watson depended upon.

                LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

                by BlackSheep1 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:48:01 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  OH, I also forgot thousands of (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              thousands of mopeds,
              hundreds (maybe thousands) of skate boards,
              thousands of roller bladers or roller skates,
              and thousands of joggers.

              And did I mention blind, or hearing impaired?

              NYC is one place where a blind person can be truly independent, and can get around wherever they need to go with nothing more than their stick.

    •  I think hours in use should be the deciding factor (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

      by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:45:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  except it falls apart (7+ / 0-)

    when one considers that 300 million guns is just the registered ones, the ones we know about.  whereas the death toll is absolutely empirically knowable.

    and if we don't include suicides, which

    a) involve no road mileage

    b) aren't the problem, per se, when it comes to guns.  

    excluding suicides, things look more like this:

    Total number of annual deaths involving the use of motor vehicles: approximately 30,000

    Total number of annual deaths involving the use of firearms: approximately 12,000

    i.e., something whose only purpose is to kill still kills 1/3 the number of people cars do.

    Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

    by Cedwyn on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:19:05 AM PST

    •  falling apart... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener, wilderness voice

      The number of vehicles or guns isn't even really relevant- just in there for information. I wanted to derail accusations of "blaming an object" and focus on the human agency. I thought about trying to draw a rough equivalence between driving one mile and firing one bullet, but then I realized that the raw numbers speak for themselves. What's key is the number of rounds fired- that's one "use" of a gun. Whatever one "use" of a car is, the difference is clearly orders of magnitude.

      •  Guns don't require agency by the operator (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sandino, Recall

        There are plenty of accidental discharges.

        What "agency" is actually require?

        The agency that gives rise to more than half of accidental shootings only required a single person who decided to

        1. have a gun present (intentional agency),
        2. with a round in the chamber (intentional agency),
        3. and their own careless handling (negligent lack of agency)
        4. an empty chamber with ammunition near by (negligent lack of agency),
        5. a decision to leave the gun unsecured, with or without a round in the chamber (negligent lack of agency).

        I'm sure it's obvious I'm not a lawyer.

        I think there is a lot of room in Nos. 3, 4,5 to impose fines and sanctions (loss of RKBA for X years or permanently), that would have NO IMPACT on truly responsible gun owners' ability to hunt for food, operate their ranch, defend their property, enjoy their collection from grandpa, or enjoy their target-shooting hobby.

        •  The constant push to punish, take, and restrict (0+ / 0-)

          the lawful gun owner as demonstrated by your post has a lot to do with why gun restriction legislation is pretty much DOA and won't get off the ground.

          I keep reading about the desire to stop the violence, reduce crime, reduce poverty and despair that leads to violence and suicide, etc but all that is ever proposed and demand are things to designed to blame, infringe upon, limit, and take away from people who aren't the core problem.

          Even though there is a more vocal component at this site, views like yours are a real minority.  Consider that estimates put it that at least 40% of Democrats own guns.  How many of them do you think would really agree to having the govt nanny them on your 3,4, and 5 above?  More and more I see Democrats and Liberals stating that they will no longer back the party because of their position on gun control and this has become a fairly regular occurrence at places like The Liberal Gun Club, where many of the RKBA'ers from here have relocated to.  To me, it comes down to ensuring that views like yours remain a sufficient minority to never be able to see the light of day and I for one am willing to let other ideals wait in order to make that happen.

          •  Noway - you are in denial (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sandino, Recall

            There are simply too many guns in the hands of extremely irresponsible people, and they currently face few or no sanctions when their gun is used to accidentally shoot or kill someone.

            I'm highly trained, highly skilled, with decades of experience, (was taught to safely handle a rifle and shoot straight at the age of ten), yet don't currently keep a fire arm. But I can imagine many possible future chapters of my life where I might want to keep a firearm in my home.

            There are A LOT of us out there, who recognize the misnomer of the "responsible" gun owner.

            The facts are so obvious. You and I might be very safe and totally responsible. But there are many, many with currently unrestricted legal rights who are neither careful, safe, nor responsible.

            If there were no licensing, no registration, no fines, no impounding, no jail time, for irresponsible vehicle use, there would be a whole lot more injury and death due to motor vehicles.

          •  Your "lawful" includes "extremely careless" nt (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sandino, Recall
          •  The white elephant in your living room (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            is that fewer households have any gun in them.

            Yet gun sales are rising.

            The media report this as fewer and fewer people are buying more and more guns. That's a benign interpretation.

            If someone wants to have 20 or 50 or 100 firearms, that could reasonably require a collector's license.

            The simplest explanation is that there is a whole lot more gun trafficking going on that people want to admit. It's a fairly simple way to make some cash under the table.

            In this economy, the need to feed your family, (or a "need" for some untraceable source of income), is driving at least some of the rise in gun sales.

            Why can't you admit that? For all your fears, there are people on the other end, e.g. residents of Maricopa County who have to contend with a privately armed, privately trained volunteer posse, who get to wear a LE uniform, and drive around in a marked police car, and all of whom are loyal to Sheriff Joe and his policies.

          •  Noway - more than half of accidental (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            marykk, Sandino, Recall

            shootings are committed by teens and minors.

            Yet, too often the cause of those accidents was a careless adult exercising their legal right to RKBA.

            Why do you have a problem with addressing those negligent behaviors - but only for those WHO HAVE PROVEN NEGLIGENT handling or failure to secure their fire arm?

            Go ahead, dig your heels in. But if you have an honest proposal for reducing the accidental shootings done by 2-18 year-olds please do lay it out.

            •  Ok, lets start with do you really believe (0+ / 0-)

              that things like fines, penalties, and laws are going to adequately change people's behavior?  Do speeding tickets keep people from speeding?  Perhaps most importantly, how would this be enforced.  How are the existing laws, including federal, that are already in place?  How would new or more laws be better?

              Putting it in the context of an accidental injury or death of a minor, how does a fine stack up compared to the anguish that the parents will experience?

              If fines and penalties aren't going to achieve the desired result what approaches might?  

              I am not opposed to improving these things.  I do question the ability to legislate away the problem.  I am also leery of any sort of restriction type legislation, especially with it coming on the heels of the failed BS about an AWB, capacity limits, registration, and insurance.  My skepticism is deserved.

              •  Ok, I'll play. Peer-to-peer influence works (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Recall, Sandino

                I've addressed all of your questions elsewhere in detail, but I won't ask you to bother digging through prior comments.

                I'm not addressing the criminal uses and trafficking of guns. Only the public safety hazard posed careless gun owners.

                According to the National Library of Medicine 1/3 of families with children also have guns, and 40% of them do not keep their guns locked up. That means that 13% of households with children have unsecured firearms.

                Some fraction of those folks are capable of changing their behavior when a friend or family member says something to them about the law/consequences of an accident.

                "Hey man, keep that thing locked up. You can't keep an eye on it all the time, and if there's an accidental shooting you could lose your RKBA for X years, even no one gets killed. We wouldn't be able to go hunting together for X years!"


                Sis-in-law tells hunting hubby, "Sure, I'd love to have our kids play with your nephews, but that have to come over here because I know your guns are locked up, and over there, they have a bunch of handguns and are not as careful as you." It might be extremely uncomfortable for hubby to explain to his brother's family why the kids can't come to their house and play, or he'll convince them to clean up their habits so he can drop his kids off while he and the wife take a weekend away for themselves.

                Peer-to-peer influence works.  

                In situations where all the peers are careless, and the gun inevitably fires a round into someone or something, the police then have reasonable tools to improve public safety to take guns out of that home. Suppose someone accidentally shoots themselves while "cleaning" their gun with a round in the chamber. They could be required to surrender all  their guns for 2 years (? I'm not sure what number would make sense), not purchase any new guns during that time, and before restoration of the RKBA, attend safety training and proficiency testing, and in the mean time still get a hunting permit, and rent a rifle during deer season at licensed range. Their ability to provide food for their family might be restricted, but the extra burden will provide an incentive to not be careless when there is a round in the chamber.

                I'm absolutely certain if there was a risk of losing RKBA temporarily and a cost to have rights restored a significant number of people would be less careless.

              •  Laws certainly can have impact (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Recall, Sandino

                As for laws, absolutely!  Even though most people speed a little, and some people speed a lot, speeding laws do reduce vehicle deaths and injuries for most people.

                There are many people who never speed. There are many who speed a little who have never gotten a speeding ticket. Speeding is not a blanket problem. Instead, it's some speeding, in some locations, by some people that pose the most hazard.

                Another example, smoking ban in bars and restaurants in NYC. Everyone was in an uproar. I didn't much care, either way.

                The rationale is the health risk that second hand smoke creates for employees who work in bars and restaurants.

                So what happened? Did it kill the restaurant and bar industry? No way. It just meant people had to go outside to smoke. It mean you could spend an evening out and not have your clothes and hair reek of second hand smoke, and it meant some people did smoke less. And there were also set up special licenses for smoking bars, cigar bars. So that means some workers are still exposed, cigar smokers are inconvenienced but can still smoke in a public venue and on the street, almost anywhere.

                If anything, I think it helped the industry. More people are willing to spend more time in bars because the smoke and stench doesn't bother them, and not having to keep a separate smoking area eliminated significant cost for restaurants.

    •  Suicides ARE a problem (4+ / 0-)

      according to the research, guns make it easier, and thus more common. Also, more successful.

      •  i figure people have the right (0+ / 0-)

        to end their own life.  so i will not equate suicides with gun homicides; it couldn't be more apples and oranges.

        this is not to say suicide is not a problem or doesn't matter, but it is not * the * issue when it comes to guns.  crimes against others are the problem.

        Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

        by Cedwyn on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 02:48:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why even bother (5+ / 0-)

    trying to compare metrics. You just open yourself up to nitpicking (why miles vs rounds fired?) when the comparison itself is a red herring.

    Compare the social and economic utility of cars and guns and the answer is clear. Whether it be transporting sick people, delivering food, carrying medicine, taking kids to school, people to work, and on and on. It's clear that personal transportation is one of the linchpins of our societal state of being.

    Personal firearms aren't even close to providing the same social utility, so comparing the 'harm' between the two isn't even the right comparison.

    That said, thanks for collecting the statistics and laying out the numbers.

    •  Why bother.. (5+ / 0-)

      I completely agree that this is a red herring,and that the social utility of cars vs. guns is incalculable. I worked up an earlier version that reflected some of that, but it became unwieldy. And you're right, it's the real comparison. But the pro-gun folks dismiss the comparison for a variety of silly reasons, so I thought that getting these raw numbers out might be useful. (And who knew that Americans drive 3 TRILLION miles a year?)

    •  Say that to the struggling retiree whose home... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, noway2

      ...had been burglarized several times.

      He sought the "social utility" of a personal firearm , an SCOTUS agreed that he should avail himself of it.

      And so do I.

          In McDonald v. City of Chicago, U.S., 130 S.Ct. 3020, 177 L.Ed.2nd 894 (2010), Chicago resident Otis McDonald, a 76 year old (in 2010) retired maintenance engineer, had lived in the Morgan Park neighborhood since buying a house there in 1971.[7] McDonald decried the decline of his neighborhood, describing it as being taken over by gangs and drug dealers. His lawn was regularly littered with refuse and his home and garage had been broken into a combined five times, with the most recent robbery committed by a man McDonald recognized from his own neighborhood.[7] An experienced hunter, McDonald legally owned shotguns, but believed them too unwieldy in the event of a robbery, and wanted to purchase a handgun for personal home defense. Due to Chicago's requirement that all firearms in the city be registered, yet refusing all handgun registrations after 1982 when a citywide handgun ban was passed, he was unable to legally own a handgun. As a result, in 2008, he joined three other Chicago residents in filing a lawsuit which became McDonald v. Chicago.[7]

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

      by PatriciaVa on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:31:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We've had this discussion several times. (4+ / 0-)

        The social utility of guns is not 0, defensive gun use does occur.

        However, any reasonable analysis of defensive gun use shows that it is far outweighed by gun injuries, murders, and suicides.

        And just because someone 'believed' that a shotgun was too unwieldy for effective home defense doesn't mean that he was right.

        But if you feel that you can successfully compare the utility of defensive gun use to personal transportation on anything other than a logarithmic graph, feel free to try.

      •  Say what? (5+ / 0-)

        These numbers say nothing about the right of anyone to keep and bear arms. I put this together in response to gun advocates who kept comparing the death rate from cars to the death rate from guns. It's a stupid argument on their part- guns are dangerous. If they weren't, they wouldn't be the object of choice for self defense. You don't bring a knife to a gunfight. But claiming that cars are as or more dangerous than guns? It just ain't so. But it does raise questions of liability insurance and how we establish safe practice.

  •  Since cars are not manufactured (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    denise b, Cedwyn, Glen The Plumber

    to kill things, it's like comparing camels to sloths.
    Sloths win every time.

    “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

    by skohayes on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:19:47 AM PST

  •  What about death from pollution (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, Cedwyn

    And climate change?

    Wars for oil?

    There's far more automobile related deaths than just accidents.  

    "I'm a progressive man and I like progressive people" Peter Tosh

    by Texas Lefty on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:44:20 AM PST

  •  Why not use meters? (0+ / 0-)

    miles is so arbitrary.  Your measurement is worthless.

  •  Cars are expensive - guns are cheap (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, Recall

    Cars are insured and registered to owners who must produce proof of insurance and registration at all times- Officials say Kellerman told police he forgot the gun was inside the bag.

    Cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses, etc require separate licenses - guns only require permits under certain circumstances no regard as to class.

    Everybody passes the conceal carry class - Last year alone there were more than 50,000 failures in some of the states.

    guns are fun v. hey buddy, watch what you are doing -- which side are you on?

    by 88kathy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:53:47 AM PST

    •  What does this sentence mean? (0+ / 0-)
      Everybody passes the conceal carry class - Last year alone there were more than 50,000 failures in some of the states.
      •  50,000 failures in taking the CDL tests in some (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:


        Grandkids just arrived pandemonium here.

        guns are fun v. hey buddy, watch what you are doing -- which side are you on?

        by 88kathy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:49:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  50,000 failures in pass commercial driver's (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          license test?

          Not following. Do you mean to support the idea that firearm purchase should require class specific proficiency certification?

          I'm in favor of that.

          •  Man I am having trouble today. This was from a (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            site that helped you get your CDL.  They were saying that of all the people who attempt to get a CDL 50,000 fail in some states.  I imagine that number is inflated and skewed and it is not clear over what time span.  

            However, I don't think anyone fails to pass a conceal carry class.  That would be an interesting statistic if it even exists.

            There does not seem to be the chatter on the conceal carry failure rate for attempts to pass.  I think if you take the class the instructor issues the pass certificate.  I don't think you then go to the ATF for the test to get your conceal carry permit.

            Unlike a CDL, you take the class and then go to the DMV to take the test and be granted your CDL license.

            guns are fun v. hey buddy, watch what you are doing -- which side are you on?

            by 88kathy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 02:43:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So concealed carry is more a check of the (0+ / 0-)

              person's history, but doesn't actually test whether they can clear a weapon or shoot with sufficient accuracy at a target X meters away?

              •  I think it is up to the instructor. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                But basically it is a glorified background check.  And even with the toughest instructors, I would imagine all pass, because if they didn't it would violate their 'rights'.  There is no ATF check back as there is a DMV check back for those who operate a motor vehicle.

                guns are fun v. hey buddy, watch what you are doing -- which side are you on?

                by 88kathy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 03:24:53 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I too imagine they all pass, because it would be (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  bad for "business." An instructor who flunked some people, hmmm, word would get around, and people would go to a different instructor.

                •  I used to think concealed carry people were (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  probably mostly skilled, mostly diligent, and principled, and careful people.

                  But Zimmerman, and that other guy in florida who shot up the car because he didn't like their music, that made me realize there are some really dangerous people walking around with guns and entitlement and just itching for an excuse to express their dissatisfaction about something.

                  I still favor rights on your own private property, with licensing, etc. and stiff penalties for PROVEN sloppiness, carelessness, or failure to abide by the law.

                  •  I used to think gun owners were responsible and (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Sandino, LilithGardener

                    would lose their minds to see people acting sloppy and careless around guns.  

                    The ones I have interacted with here at kos made me think twice about that. They seem to think guns are their right unless there is a problem, then it is not their fault and everyone should help them pick up the pieces.

                    How can accidental discharge of a firearm in a public place not be a felony with a hefty fine (I mean like $100,000's)?   How can some who fails to secure their firearm not be responsible for the gun getting into the wrong hands?  Why does their tin safe have to be accepted by me as 'good enough'--and I have to handle the gun on the loose?  I can't control their guns, and they have no intention of controlling their guns.

                    This kindergarten murder just showed the gun owners for the paranoid, careless, sloppy group they are.  All of the rights and none of the responsibility.

                    guns are fun v. hey buddy, watch what you are doing -- which side are you on?

                    by 88kathy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 05:59:43 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  That's a very broad brush (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      This kindergarten murder just showed the gun owners for the paranoid, careless, sloppy group they are.  All of the rights and none of the responsibility.
                      But I agree with you that the set of gun owners who are responsible with their fire arms, and there are many, were asleep at the watch. They wrongly did little or nothing for a long time except nurture their own expertise, hobby, or other use.

                      The loudest of the voices from the RKBA group here are not responsible gun owners, and some of them are just bullies, because they want to be, and they chose this issue as their weapon of choice.

                      But it's my opinion that the marjority of responsible gun owners are too buy just living their lives. They keep their guns secure, with multiple layers of security. They use them to hunt, on the ranch, target practice, etc., but they have no faith in their utility in a surprise self defense situation. They don't walk around in public imagining they will be the one to take the shooter down.

                      The vast majority of responsible gun owners never had an accidental discharge, and will never shoot anyone or leave their weapon somewhere in a bathroom. They may go walking in the woods with a holstered side arm, but they will never need to shoot a surpised Moutain Lion, because they know how to make enough noise so the critters know they are there and move on.

                    •  There are too few fines and sanctions - (0+ / 0-)

                      so very soon there will be new taxes. The health costs of treating gun shot victims in Cook County averages $52,000 per gun shot victim. Society can no longer simply absorb that in our health system, insurance or no insurance.

                      It took some time to change attitudes about drunk driving, and that started back when drinking at a business lunch was the norm. When the question of whether to drink wasn't even on the table, the question was should we go for a 2 or third martini.

                      One of the funny things I've read is angry comments aby RKBAers who think that Wayne LaPierre isn't doing enough to protect their rights!  We are going to make substantive progress, and the 2A may eventually be repealed, but I'm certain the right to keep and bear arms will remain, but possibly with significant restrictions. We won't get there in one step.

  •  A good measurement MIGHT be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, noway2

    gun owners/deaths vs car owners/deaths.

    But there is no accurate way (that was in the title of your diary), but it really doesn't matter.  Not having cars is unthinkable in our current society, so its not a good comparison.  

    I would say a car is probably more dangerous, but part of the reason is the ubiquity of drunk drivers.

    •  Cars are considerably more dangerous (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      per se - but the danger is defined primarily to roads, highways, driveways, and garages.

      Car danger is very low in much of public space; it's zero inside a church, zero inside a courthouse, zero inside a hospital, very small inside a stadium, very small when using mass transit, very small inside a park, etc.

      Guns are more dangerous than cars because they can be concealed, and because they can be carried almost anywhere.

  •  I found it interesting that the number of (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, KVoimakas, Cedwyn, andalusi

    registered cars and the estimated number of firearms in circulation are pretty close, yet the number of accidental deaths from cars is higher.

    For cars, 300,000,000 cars with 30,000 accidental deaths is .0001 (1x10^-4) deaths per car.

    For guns, 270,000,000 guns with 1000 accidental deaths is 3.7x10^-6 deaths per gun.

    Looked at another way, you are 27 times more likely to get killed in a car accident than you are in a gun accident.

    I also think that it is erroneous to draw conclusions about guns from the homicide and suicide numbers.  The tacit assumption is that without guns these deaths wouldn't have occurred.  While some of them may not have occurred, I am sure that many of them still would have via another means.  These numbers also fail to take into account the justifiable homicide rate and crime prevention rate from gun usage that doesn't result in a homicide.

  •  There is an even better comparison (3+ / 0-)

    Source: National Library of Medicine

    One-third of all families in America that have children also have guns, and more than 40 percent of them don't keep their guns locked up. Children younger than eight can't tell the difference between a real gun and a toy, and 3-year-olds are strong enough to pull the trigger on a real gun. Children and teens commit more than half of all unintentional shootings.
    What fraction of vehicular accidents are committed by children and teens?

    I'm support the right to keep and bear arms, but with significant regulations. It's time to require proof of proficiency and adequate security for responsible firearms ownership. And it's time to impose fines and loss of rights for accidental fire arms discharges. And charges for any discharge that results in injury or death.

    No more free pass and RKBA for "accidental" shootings.

    •  If something kills people, then there must (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      a societal benefit that outweighs the deaths. Cars clearly have that weight, and the changes in deaths and injuries show that regulation has made cars less dangerous.

      The Framers put forward only one useful purpose for guns and that was to maintain a militia when there was no standing army. But look at what militias did in the runup to the Civil War, they got stronger and more deadly until they were used to cause the murders of 700,000 Americans. Now we have the world's strongest standing army and we are never going back, so the constitutional need for keeping guns by private citizens is no longer valid. Therefore there is no real societal advantage for having guns in the possession of private citizens.

      Without the need to support a militia, the only other needs for guns are for hunting and indulging some internal fantasy that many gun lovers need. But they will just have to find another fantasy. Maybe they can fantasize that they are saving lives by giving up guns, but I don't think they will. They love the gun, the feel of the gun, the smell of the gun, they love they way it makes them feel powerful and manly, they love to strike fear in the hearts of others. It must be quite a rush, and to satisfy that rush innocents must die. It is the American way. Kill or be killed. They want blood, and they have got it. They want to indulge their fantasies no matter who gets hurt--in fact, they prefer that others get hurt. They are not willing to accept death and injury themselves, it must always be imposed on others.

      Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

      by hestal on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:32:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are ignoring more than half the country (0+ / 0-)

        where some people hunt for food, and defend their cattle / property with fire arms.

        There are many social benefits of fire arms for some people.

        While I like your interpretation about the definition in the constitution as the only constitutionally protected right, a specifically defined social value, I'll challenge you to propose a plan for how you would go about disarming American society.

        It's like alcohol and drugs, (illegal and prescription). It's not that these substances are all bad for all who might drink, smoke or ingest them.

        It some patterns of use that create almost all the problems. So to limit harm, but retain social value and individual freedom, there are a set of restrictions around who can access them, and where they can access them, and what they can be permitted to do while under their influence.

        Going back to alcohol prohibition would cause a rise in crime and accidental poisonings because people would be selling moonshine that they made in their bathtub to unsuspecting customers.

        •  You will challenge me? Who the hell are you? (0+ / 0-)

          Just because you can't think of a way to deal with the problem does not mean that I can't.

          Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

          by hestal on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 07:21:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Let's hear it - if you have a policy proposal (0+ / 0-)

            to disarm the dangerous people, or all of the people, let's hear it.

            •  I am not going to engage in a childish (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              argument with you. I am serious about killing the gun violence in our nation, and I use this blog from time to time to see what gun lovers like you are thinking. The information is then put to good use in a larger venue.

              So, your response was so immediate it must show that you are very intense about this subject, like many gun lovers are.

              Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

              by hestal on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 07:28:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Or are you going to keep your fabulous policy to (0+ / 0-)


            •  No, I am not going to keep if to myself. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I am using it elsewhere, where it will do some good. There is no profit in trying to have a serious discussion with you.

              Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

              by hestal on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 07:30:07 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Okay (0+ / 0-)

                It seems you missed the part where I agreed with the premise of your argument in paragraph 2, about significant public utility.

                Here's 2 snapshots of current reality:

                1. On average someone gets killed by a gun shot every 17 minutes.

                2. On average someone dies of a prescription drug overdose every 19 minutes.

                Should all medicines be banned because some people misuse them, because of the crime surrounding illegal prescription drug diversion?  

                There are people who believe medicine and vaccines are evil, all part of a plot by big pharma and doctors to poison our children and make a lot of money. Some believe it as sincerely as you believe all gun owners are, by your definition, irresponsible.

                Would such a person be credible when they call you, your school board, and millions of others "evil medicine lovers"  who want to poison their children?

                •  A Gardener who does not read may as well be (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  a Gardener who cannot read.

                  I did not say what you accuse me of saying, but your anger has blinded you to the truth.

                  Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

                  by hestal on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 08:09:40 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Hestal - it's just not useful to paint all gun (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Persiflage, andalusi

        owners with your own imagination, projecting onto them traits and qualities that you denigrate and despise. All that does is show the reader your tunnel vision or lack of exposure to the wider world.

        It really undercuts any inclination to consider your other point seriously because your motives are screaming out sideways.

        I think you have a cogent argument in paragraph 2. Run with it. (I just happen to disagree with your conclusion).

        •  Gardener, your tone is offensive. How on earth (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          do you think that I should pay any attention to what you think about what I say?

          You are so pompous you are beginning to annoy me.

          Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

          by hestal on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 07:23:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Here is one (0+ / 0-)

        link to amazon book.

        There are many such stories to be found online.

  •  This reminds me (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Recall, Sandino, Glen The Plumber

    of when smokers try to deflect criticism of second-hand smoke by talking about air pollution from cars, as though we aren't allowed to refuse to accept one hazard because we haven't refused the other.

    But that's not the way it works. We never have applied a logically consistent cost-benefit analysis to the various things that we regulate, and we don't need to start now. All we have to do is want it, and within the constraints imposed by the courts use the democratic process to make it happen. We have to  persuade some of those who are open to persuasion and put enough pressure on our representatives to get it enacted.

    But we don't have to justify it to those who firmly oppose it. We don't have to argue with them at all. Why not just disengage? Let's not get manipulated into trying to prove that we have the right to regulate guns. We don't have to prove anything to them.

    We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

    by denise b on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 04:00:55 PM PST

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