As NRA Annual Meeting Opens in Nashville, Gun Deaths Surpass Motor Vehicle Deaths in 17 States Including Tennessee

For Release: Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Firearms should be regulated for health and safety just like all other consumer products

Washington, DC — With the National Rifle Association annual meeting opening in Nashville on Friday, a new analysis by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) finds that gun deaths surpassed motor vehicle deaths in Tennessee and 16 other states, along with the District of Columbia.

The VPC analysis refers to gun deaths and motor vehicle deaths in 2013, the most recent year for which comprehensive state-level data is available. Data is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The analysis found that in 2013, there were 17 states where there were more gun deaths than motor vehicle deaths: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming, along with the District of Columbia.

More than 90 percent of American households own a car while fewer than a third of American households have a gun. Americans’ exposure to motor vehicles vastly outweighs their exposure to firearms. Yet nationwide, there were 33,636 gun deaths and 35,612 motor vehicle deaths in 2013.

In Tennessee, the latest data available shows 94 percent of households have a car and 46 percent of households have a gun. Yet even though motor vehicles are far more prevalent than guns, there were 1,030 gun deaths and 1,027 motor vehicle deaths in Tennessee in 2013.

Motor vehicle deaths are on a long-term decline nationwide, thanks to implementation of public health-based injury prevention strategies over the past several decades. Meanwhile, guns are the only consumer product the federal government does not regulate for health and safety.

The NRA annual meeting is taking place in Nashville from April 10-12. It will include the largest firearms industry trade show of new weaponry open to the public, where gun companies will prominently feature military-style, semiautomatic weapons with high-capacity ammunition magazines. The NRA website promises “the most spectacular displays of firearms, shooting and hunting accessories in the world” and encourages attendees to “bring your whole family.”

“The NRA is planning a big party in Nashville this weekend, but in reality there is nothing to celebrate,” states VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. “Our analysis exposes the shameful fact that you are more likely to be killed with a gun than in a motor vehicle crash in Tennessee and 16 other states.”

“The time has come to stand up to the NRA and its corporate sponsors in the gun industry and regulate firearms for health and safety, just as we regulate motor vehicles and all other consumer products,” Sugarmann adds.

This is the fourth year the VPC has issued its annual report comparing gun deaths to motor vehicle deaths by state. Gun deaths include gun suicides, homicides, and fatal unintentional shootings; motor vehicle deaths include both occupants and pedestrians.

The chart below compares gun deaths and motor vehicle deaths nationwide from 1999 to 2013:


Below are the complete figures for the states where gun deaths surpassed motor vehicle deaths in 2013. The full report can be viewed at

Alaska: 144 gun deaths, 66 motor vehicle deaths

Arizona: 941 gun deaths, 863 motor vehicle deaths

Colorado: 619 gun deaths, 514 motor vehicle deaths

District of Columbia: 71 gun deaths, 30 motor vehicle deaths

Indiana: 857 gun deaths, 840 motor vehicle deaths

Louisiana: 886 gun deaths, 767 motor vehicle deaths

Maryland: 578 gun deaths, 531 motor vehicle deaths

Michigan: 1,190 gun deaths, 1,063 motor vehicle deaths

Missouri: 880 gun deaths, 781 motor vehicle deaths

Nevada: 395 gun deaths, 281 motor vehicle deaths

Ohio: 1,289 gun deaths, 1,144 motor vehicle deaths

Oregon: 462 gun deaths, 363 motor vehicle deaths

Pennsylvania: 1,451 gun deaths, 1,340 motor vehicle deaths

Tennessee: 1,030 gun deaths, 1,027 motor vehicle deaths

Utah: 339 gun deaths, 234 motor vehicle deaths

Virginia: 864 gun deaths, 780 motor vehicle deaths

Washington: 632 gun deaths, 540 motor vehicle deaths

Wyoming: 102 gun deaths, 92 motor vehicle deaths


The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

Media Contact:
Georgia Seltzer
(202) 822-8200 x104