A new study shows that nearly two dozen states have a higher rate of death from guns than they do from car crashes, even though three times the number of people have access to a car than they do a gun.
The annual study from the Violence Policy Center shows that overall, there were slightly more deaths from motor vehicles than guns in 2014. According to data it pulled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35,647 people died in car crashes compared to 33,599 people killed by guns.
That same year, 21 states and the District of Columbia had a higher death rate per 100,000 people from guns than cars. In 2009, only 10 states had a higher rate of deaths from guns than cars.
Alaska tops the list out of the 21 states, with 19.68 gun deaths per 100,000 people, followed by Tennessee at 15.57 and Missouri at 15.55. By contrast, the death rate from car crashes in Alaska, Tennessee and Missouri is 11.81, 15.27 and 13.21, respectively.
Illinois is on the list with 9.15 gun deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 8.35 deaths from car crashes.
“Firearms are the only consumer product the federal government does not regulate for health and safety,” VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand said in a statement. “Meanwhile, science-based regulations have dramatically reduced deaths from motor vehicles in recent decades. It’s well past time that we regulate firearms for health and safety just like all other consumer products.”
The report cites Dr. David Hemenway, the director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center to illustrate the dangers of guns.
“(T)he time Americans spend using their cars is orders of magnitudes greater than the time spent using their guns,” Hemenway wrote in his 2004 book “Private Guns, Public Health.” “It is probable that per hour of exposure, guns are far more dangerous. Moreover, we have lots of safety regulations concerning the manufacture of motor vehicles; there are virtually no safety regulations for domestic firearms manufacture.”
The Violence Policy Center is a tax-exempt organization with ties to gun control groups. For gun deaths in the report, it counted gun deaths by suicides, murders and unintentional shootings from the CDC. Motor vehicle deaths include both vehicle occupants and pedestrians.