Sorry, Conservatives, Guns Kill Just As Many People As Cars — So Just…Stop (IMAGES)

For years, one of conservatives’ primary arguments about anything approaching reasonable firearms regulations is that more people are killed in automobile accidents than through gun violence — and to some degree, they have been correct. Cars serve many purposes in society while guns are designed solely to take someone’s life — and there are far more vehicles on the road than guns in people’s homes — but, technically, cars have traditionally killed more people than guns. Unfortunately for our friends on the Right, they can no longer use this argument in their fight against sane gun control measures.

On Thursday, the Washington Post pointed something that is certain to be quite uncomfortable for the Don’t Tread on Me crowd. According to data released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, guns and cars kill Americans at an “identical rate”:

 In 2014, the age-adjusted death rate for both firearms (including homicides, suicides and accidental deaths) and motor vehicle events (car crashes, collisions between cars and pedestrians, etc) stood at 10.3 deaths per 100,000 people.

The reason for this is twofold: automobile deaths have been cut nearly in half since 1950, but the number of Americans killed by guns has risen in that same time period.
2015-12-18_11-24-37

While the number is currently about the same, recent data suggests this will soon change — and not in a manner that favors conservatives’ ridiculous-yet-popular “pro-gun” argument about cars.

In 2005, gun deaths outnumbered vehicle deaths in two states. In 2014, that number rose to 21 — a trend that seems as though it will continue.

2015-12-18_11-32-17

But why the change?

The reason we have seen this shift is simple: over the years, we have taken time to strengthen and enforce regulations and laws regarding automobiles, and to improve safety — because we, as a society, were smart enough to realize that far too many people were killed by automobiles. Wonkblog notes:

The steady decline in motor vehicle deaths over the past 65 years can be attributed to a combination of improved technology and smarter regulation. The federal government mandated the presence of seat belts in the 1960s. The ’70s brought anti-lock brakes. The ’80s brought an increased focus on drunk driving and mandatory seat belt use. Airbags came along in the ’90s. More recent years have seen mandates on electronic stability systems, increasedpenalties for distracted driving and forthcoming requirements for rear-view cameras.

The result has been safer cars, safer roads, better drivers  and a decades-long decline in motor vehicle fatalities, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

As for guns…not so much:

Restrictions passed in earlier eras, such as the assault weapons ban, have been undone recently. During the George W. Bush administration, Congress passed laws that prohibited law enforcement from publicizing data showing where criminals obtained their guns and granted gunmakers immunity from some civil lawsuits.

In addition, smart-gun technology that would prevent anyone but the owner from picking up a gun and using it has been radically-opposed by the NRA and its acolytes, universal background checks are out-of-the-question to the NRA and their Republican puppets despite overwhelming support from gun owners, and basically any reasonable solution stands little chance of being enacted thanks to the American Taliban.

The lesson we should learn here is that reasonable regulations and efforts to make guns less of a threat to society can work if we take them seriously. After all, look at the amazing progress we have made with automobiles. Unfortunately, we are dealing with people who still think the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter was robbing a bank, so it is likely that we will continue to hear the familiar “Well, cars kill more people than guns, so BAN CARS” argument for years to come.

After all, a general lack of intelligence among conservatives is also something that is backed by hard data.


Featured image via Wonkblog