​Guns likely to soon claim more lives than car crashes – report

Reuters/Jim Young
More young Americans are likely to be killed by guns than car crashes this year for the first time in decades, according to a new report published by a DC-based research group.

Researchers at the Center for American Progress (CAP), a DC-based progressive public policy research and advocacy organization, have published ananalysisin which they predict that shooting deaths will claim more lives in 2015 than automobiles – at least among America’s youth.

While the number of annual automobile deaths has dropped by nearly 25 percent during the last decade, according to information from the United States Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, shooting deaths have stayed steady.

Coupled with what CAP calls “a crisis of youth gun violence,” the organization’s researchers expect that more Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 will likely die from firearm incidents during this calendar year.

The CAP report reads, in part, that gun homicides, suicides, and accidents accounted for more deaths among Americans of that age group in 2010 than any other cause of death except car crashes. However, in 2015, that could very well change.

“Indeed, gun deaths are not far behind motor vehicle accident deaths: 6,201 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 were killed by guns in 2010, while 7,024 people in this age group were killed in motor vehicle traffic accidents,” wrote the authors of the CAP report. “If current trends continue, gun deaths among this age group are projected to outnumber car accident deaths next year for the first time since 1994.”

"We have spent a great deal of time and money over the last 20 years studying the causes of car accidents in this country," Chelsea Parsons, a spokeswoman for CAP, told Vice News, adding that that new laws and safety features have "had the cumulative effect of reducing the number of fatalities of young people due to car accidents."

But with regards to shooting deaths, statistics have hardly changed, CAP reported.

"We have not directed nearly as much attention to the issue of gun violence among young people in this country," Parsons told Vice. "While car accident deaths have declined sharply among this group, deaths due to gunshots have remained largely stagnant."

According to CAP’s report, "American children and teenagers are 4 times more likely to die by gunfire than their counterparts in Canada, 7 times more likely than young people in Israel and 65 times more likely to be killed with a gun than children and teenagers in the United Kingdom."

Yet while a drop in shooting deaths doesn’t seem to be in the cards anytime soon, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) is hailing last month’s news that there has been a 3.1 percent decrease from the previous year and a nearly 25 percent decline in overall highway deaths since 2004.

“Safety truly is a shared responsibility and we’ve all got more work to do in the New Year to keep more families together – that’s my resolution to the American people,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said last month when the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released data from its 2013 Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

“Almost 90 people on average lose their lives each day – and more than 250 are injured every hour – due to drunk driving, not wearing a seatbelt, and the many other factors associated with traffic crashes,” added NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman. “As we work each day at NHTSA, these are tragic reminders of the importance of our efforts and how we must build on our many successes and continue to work even harder to protect the American public.”

Meanwhile, firearm safety proponents and anti-gun activists want to see shooting death statistics experience significant drops as well, especially in the wake of recent massacres like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting two years ago and the rampage at an Aurora, Colorado movie theatre that preceded it by only a few months.

However, pro-gun activists are quick to state that such incidents are on the decline.

"While Americans acquired between 135-140 million new firearms from the end of 1991 through the end of 2013, the nation's violent crime rate decreased in 19 of those 22 years," the NRA said, according to Vice News.