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.
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