Guns Now Kill More People Than Cars in Ten States

 

Written by Richard Schiffman

The recent killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in a gated community in Florida has reignited the controversy over gun violence in America.

Whether the shooting was an act of self-defense, as Zimmerman’s lawyer claims, or murder plain and simple has been left to a jury to decide. But clearly it never would have happened if the possession of handguns were illegal, or severely restricted, as it is in Europe, where per-capita gun deaths are only one seventh of what they are in the U.S.

Gun fatalities have been on the rise– slowly but steadily every year since 2002, according to a National Institute of Justice survey. In 1975, 60 percent of the homicides in the U.S. were committed using a handgun. By 2005 that number had shot up to nearly 80 percent, with the rise in gang related gun killings even steeper.

This trend gives the lie to the NRA claim that easy access to guns does not pose a danger to Americans. It does. The more handguns there are out there, the more likely they will be used to commit a violent crime. Last year 31,593 Americans were killed by handguns. In addition, over 40 thousand were injured in nonlethal gun attacks, leaving some victims crippled for life.

Compare these appalling casualty figures to the slightly over 1000 U.S. Armed Service personnel and private contractors who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the same period. Clearly we gun-toting Americans are our own worst enemies. The violence that we perpetrate on one another with handguns is more than 30 times as deadly than the attacks of Al Qaeda and the Taliban combined!

Not only that, but in ten states (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington) you are more likely to be killed by a gun than in a car accident, according to an analysis just released by the advocacy group, the Violence Policy Center (VPC).

This is surprising given that 90 percent of U.S households have cars, whereas fewer than a third own guns, VPC’s Legislative Director Kristen Rand points out.

“Motor vehicles–unlike guns–are essential to the functioning of the entire U.S. economy,” Rand says, adding, “It is time to end firearms’ status as the last unregulated consumer product.”

The reason that cars have been getting safer is precisely because they are regulated. And those regulations are getting stiffer every year.

The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act passed in 1966 authorized the federal government to set standards for car safety which have resulted in a whole slew of new mandatory life-saving features like head rests, energy absorbing steering wheels and shatter-resistant windshields. Highways themselves are being designed better with clearer delineation of curves, use of breakaway sign and utility poles, enhanced illumination, more barriers separating oncoming traffic lanes, and more guardrails than in the past. And stricter enforcement of laws against drunk driving and mandating seat belt use have also gone a long way toward making our highways safer.

When it comes to guns, by contrast, it is still the wild west out there. In many states, there is no age or background check (at gun shows) for those who want to purchase a handgun. In some places, you can pack a concealed weapon anywhere you wish, including bars where alcohol is served. And there are few restrictions on the types or numbers of guns that one can buy. Sniper rifles, as well as military style assault and automatic weapons — some powerful enough to shoot down a helicopter — are sold openly on the internet.

Steve Barborini, a former supervisor for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told MSNBC that the online sales loophole permits what he called “a weapons bazaar for criminals.”

There’s no background check, Anybody that has a murder conviction can simply log on, email someone, meet ’em in a parking lot, and buy a freaking AK-47.

A bill introduced in the Senate by New York’s Chuck Schumer to stop this illicit internet traffic in guns has been tied up in committee for over a year now, thanks in part to the machinations of the NRA. The powerful gun lobby is also active in virtually every state of the union making sure that effective legislation never sees the light of day. Even law enforcement agencies have their hands tied in many states by legislation which prevents them from taking effective action to monitor and restrict handguns.

Florida, for example, where the Trayvon Martin shooting occurred, bans its cities and counties from regulating firearms without the state’s permission, prevents police from collecting data on firearm sales at pawnshops and forbids adoption agencies from considering gun ownership when looking at placing children, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says that Florida has some terrible gun laws– but not the worst in the nation, by their reckoning. That dubious distinction goes jointly to Arizona, Alaska and Utah where restrictions on gun purchases are virtually nonexistent.

What impact do gun laws have? Gun control opponents claim that limiting the availability of handguns does not make us safer, but more vulnerable to criminal gun violence. Their solution: arm ordinary citizens and the bad guys will be outgunned. But this is a prescription for escalating gun violence. The five states with the highest per-capita gun death rates– Louisiana, Wyoming, Alabama, Montana and Mississippi– all have extremely high rates of private handgun ownership, according to the Violence Policy Center. They also have conspicuously weak gun laws. By contrast, the five states with the lowest rates of gun-related deaths– Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut– have fewer handguns and the toughest gun control laws in the nation.

The evidence is clear– the more guns are out there, the more likely they will be used to take a life. To cut these escalating death rates, we need to strictly restrict access to handguns, as they do in virtually every other advanced nation on earth.

The highways of America are a whole lot safer today because of the aggressive and highly effective government regulation of automobiles. Let’s regulate handguns and make our streets safe too!

 

Related Stories:

Confirmed: Congress is Owned By the NRA

Americans Back Gun Restrictions, Says New Poll

Zimmerman a “Poster Child” for Gun Lobby

 

Photo from bbcworldservice via flickr

214 comments

A F.
A F.2 years ago

thanks for the article
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/07/15/1314265/-Morons-with-Guns?detail=email

ROLF P.
ROLF P.3 years ago

Who ever wrote this article is a liar you can not purchase AUTOMATIC FIREARMS IN ANY STATE. Please tell truth, stop the misinformation you are disseminating to further your agenda.

Deb Baverstock
Deb Baverstock3 years ago

Sorry, the last sentence should have concluded....some day soon they will be at the mercy of others that have guns. Which is a totally obsurd notion.

Deb Baverstock
Deb Baverstock3 years ago

Look, background checks are just one part of the equation. Sure, those selling at gun shows or over the Internet don 't say "Who can I sell to Fha wouldn't otherwise be able to get a gun?" However, if you want something but know you will be refused elsewhere and find out about a place where you CAN get it, you would go there right. Making these outlets as few and far between as possible makes sense. Lets face it, many gun deaths or injuries are accidents that could be avoided if people were handling their weapons reasonably (like an elder sib or friend accidentally shooting anouther kid because the gun ower was careless with the gun). Gun saftey and handling training is just as important. And of course, those who have bought into the diatribes of fear mongers who make them believe they must have a gun or sumes day soon they will be

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons3 years ago

As soon as the criminals start lining up to get a background check and get their illegal stolen guns registered then I will be willing to support gun control till that time no thanks.

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Scott haakon
Scott haakon3 years ago

Notice how long the Zimmerman saga is taking. If the prosecution fails the state should pay for lost wages,and atty' fees. This tactic is the bankrupt innocent people and force them into plea bargains that inflate the win record of the prosecutor and waste billions of dollars.

Matt B.
Matt B.3 years ago

To paraphrase the original article in light of the Sandy Hook shooting, real life reads like this: "What impact do gun laws have? Gun control proponents claim that limiting the availability of handguns makes us safer, and less vulnerable to criminal gun violence. Their solution: disarm ordinary citizens and assure that the bad guys will have the only weapon(s). But this is a prescription for a massacre. Which we had at Sandy Hook elementary school. Almost two dozen young children and half a dozen adults paid for this foolish belief with their lives. This is a gun control success story having made the school and most others just like it a "no gun zone" Can you and your family live with success like this?

Matt B.
Matt B.3 years ago

from the article: "What impact do gun laws have? Gun control opponents claim that limiting the availability of handguns does not make us safer, but more vulnerable to criminal gun violence. Their solution: arm ordinary citizens and the bad guys will be outgunned. But this is a prescription for escalating gun violence."

Actually guns in the hands of honest citizens always makes for a safer environment. More guns (going to honest citizens) is not a prescription for escalating gun violence, what it is is a prescription on how to not be a victim of a violent criminal. If anyone harbors any doubt I recommend reading the book "More Guns, less Crime" by Dr. John Lott. You can always borrow a copy from your local library. It is an unbiased look and analysis of gun ownership, use, law, and crime over a 20 year period with data from all areas of the United States.

To paraphrase the original article in light of the Sandy Hook shooting, real life reads like this: "What impact do gun laws have? Gun control proponents claim that limiting the availability of handguns makes us safer, and less vulnerable to criminal gun violence. Their solution: disarm ordinary citizens and assure that the bad guys will have the only weapon(s). But this is a prescription for a massacre. Which we had at Sandy Hook elementary school. Almost two dozen young children and half a dozen adults paid for this foolish belief with their lives. This is a gun control success story having made the school and most o

Matt B.
Matt B.3 years ago

sorry had a little more to go. we really need to be able to make bigger posts.

As for the over the top idea of shooting down helicopters, I could do that with a rock thrown by hand and/or a slingshot under the right conditions, or even with a 22 caliber target pistol. If the shot hits the pilot, damages an important part of the copter's avionics, or just causes a fuel leak. Our article writer(s) however leave the impression, at least to me of a single shot that blows the copter up like it was hit by an anti-aircraft missile.