For Release: Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Firearms should be regulated for health and safety just like all other consumer products
Washington, DC — The gun industry is holding its annual trade show this week in Nevada, a state where the number of gun deaths has outpaced the number of motor vehicle deaths for at least six years in a row, according to ongoing research by the Violence Policy Center (VPC).
The event, known as the SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade) Show, is closed to the general public and is billed as the largest gun trade show in the world. It will run for four days in Las Vegas starting today, and is sponsored by the gun industry trade association the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), based in Newtown, Connecticut, site of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting that left 20 schoolchildren and six educators dead.
The most recent VPC analysis found that in 2014, the last year for which data is currently available, there were 429 gun deaths in Nevada compared to 319 motor vehicle deaths. Earlier VPC analyses found that gun deaths have outpaced motor vehicle deaths in Nevada at least since 2009.
Motor vehicle deaths have declined dramatically nationwide, thanks to decades of science-based regulations that improved safety in vehicles and on highways. Meanwhile, guns are the only consumer product the federal government does not regulate for health and safety.
“In Las Vegas this week, gun manufacturers will be displaying the latest in military-bred firearms in a state where deaths by gunfire far exceed motor vehicle deaths,” says VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. “The complete lack of health and safety regulation of America’s gun industry allows gunmakers to sell and market weapons that have no place in civilian hands, including military-style assault weapons like the assault rifle used in Newtown.”
On display at the SHOT show will be civilian versions of military weapons such as assault rifles, pistols, and shotguns, as well as 50 caliber armor-piercing sniper rifles. As the gun industry continues its shift from sporting to military-style weapons, it increasingly uses militarized language and imagery to sell these battlefield-bred firearms to the general public. More information on the widespread and increasing militarization of the gun industry can be found in the VPC’s 2011 report, The Militarization of the U.S. Civilian Firearms Market.
“The federal government regulates every consumer product sold in America for health and safety: from teddy bears to motor vehicles. The only exception is guns. And the price we pay for the gun industry’s unique exemption is measured in more than 33,000 gun deaths per year,” Sugarmann adds.
The VPC calls on the federal government to regulate firearms for health and safety just as we regulate all other consumer products. Comprehensive regulation of the firearms industry and its products could include: minimum safety standards; bans on certain types of firearms such as “junk guns” and military-style assault weapons; and, limits on firepower such as maximum magazine capacity and ammunition caliber, among other measures.