Oregon was one of 14 states where gun deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in 2011, according to a study by the Violence Policy Center.The data is the most recent available, and this marks the third year the Violence Policy Center has released such a comparison.
Data was compiled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
The 13 other states where gun deaths exceeded motor vehicle deaths in 2011 were: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington state, as well as the District of Columbia.North, South, East, and West. Urban and rural. Red, blue, and purple. The only common denominator is guns. The study itself (pdf) provides a simple and obvious explanation. Join me over the fold to find out.
Experts agree that the formation of the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 1966, coupled with a sustained decades-long effort to develop and implement a series of injury-prevention initiatives, have saved countless lives. Numerous changes in both vehicle and highway design followed the creation of NHTSA. For example, vehicles incorporated new safety features, including: head rests; energy absorbing steering wheels; shatter-resistant windshields; and, safety belts. In addition, the roads that the vehicles traveled were improved through: better delineation of curves; use of breakaway signs and utility poles; improved illumination; addition of barriers separating oncoming traffic lanes; and, guardrails.Government regulation saves lives. But guns?
Experts also cite the increase in the use of seat belts beginning in the mid-1980s as states enacted belt-use laws as well as a reduction in alcohol-impaired driving as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other organizations changed the public’s perception of the problem and laws were enacted to increase the likelihood that intoxicated drivers would be punished. Graduated licensing laws are credited with helping to reduce the number of teen drivers crashing on our nation’s roadways. Between 1966 and 2000, the combined efforts of government and advocacy organizations reduced the rate of death per 100,000 population by 43 percent, which represents a 72 percent decrease in deaths per vehicle miles traveled. Despite this success, safety advocates continue to push for new improvements, such as backup cameras, to further reduce the death toll.
The health and safety regulation of motor vehicles stands as a public health success story, yet firearms remain the last consumer product manufactured in the United States not subject to federal health and safety regulation.Cars are dangerous, but strict regulation is making them increasingly less so. Guns are dangerous, and a lack of regulation is costing tens of thousands of lives, every year. The only question is how much longer Americans will put up with it.
While the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is charged with enforcing our nation’s limited gun laws, it has none of the health and safety regulatory powers afforded other federal agencies such as NHTSA.
As Dr. David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, notes in his 2004 book Private Guns, Public Health: “[T]he time Americans spend using their cars is orders of magnitudes greater than the time spent using their guns. 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.”
More than 90 percent of American households own a car while little more than a third of American households contain a gun. And yet, if charted out year by year as seen in the preceding graph, deaths nationwide from these two consumer products are on a trajectory to intersect.