For Release: Thursday, April 28, 2022
Washington, DC — Gun deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in 34 states and the District of Columbia in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, a new analysis from the Violence Policy Center (VPC) reveals.
That year, gun deaths (including gun suicide, homicide, and fatal unintentional shootings) outpaced motor vehicle deaths (both occupant and pedestrian) in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
The analysis calls the numbers “shocking,” recognizing the average American’s exposure to motor vehicles as opposed to firearms. Nine out of 10 American households have access to a motor vehicle while approximately four out of 10 American households contain a gun.
In just over a decade, the number of states plus the District of Columbia where gun deaths exceed motor vehicle deaths has increased from just 13 in 2010 to 35 in 2020—a jump of 169 percent. Complete state-by-state tables showing firearm deaths and rates and motor vehicle deaths and rates for 2010 and 2020 are contained in the analysis. Data used for the analysis is from the WISQARS database from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
VPC Government Affairs Director Kristen Rand states, “Guns are the only consumer product the federal government does not regulate for health and safety. This lack of regulation allows the firearms industry to innovate to enhance lethality, continually increasing the firepower in civilian hands. The predictable result is more gun death and injury. Because of federal regulation, motor vehicle manufacturers must work to make their products safer. In contrast, because of their lack of regulation, gun manufacturers work to find ways to make their products deadlier.”
In its conclusion, the analysis states, “Gun death and injury is an accelerating public health crisis fueled by an unregulated industry that works to develop increasingly lethal firearms and ammunition. It then touts this firepower in its marketing efforts. As with motor vehicles, until the gun industry is held accountable for the harm caused by its products only limited progress can be made to reduce firearms death and injury. Such measures would include comprehensive health and safety regulation of the firearms industry and repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).
To view the full analysis, please visit https://vpc.org/studies/gunsvsmotorvehicles22.pdf .
The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on Twitter and Facebook.