Study: Oregon gun deaths top motor vehicle deaths

Group urges federal health, safety standards, like other products

WASHINGTON - Gun deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in Oregon in 2011, the most recent year for which comprehensive nationwide data is available, according to a new analysis released Tuesday by the Violence Policy Center.

Overall in 2011, gun deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in 14 states: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington State, as well as the District of Columbia.

The data is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and is the most recent available to compare death rates for both products. 

This is the third year the VPC has issued its annual report comparing gun deaths to motor vehicle deaths by state. Previous VPC reports found there were more gun deaths than motor vehicle deaths in Oregon both in 2009 and 2010.

Gun deaths include gun suicides, homicides, and fatal unintentional shootings; motor vehicle deaths include both occupants and pedestrians.

More than 90 percent of American households own a car, while little more than a third of American households have a gun, the group said.

Americans' exposure to motor vehicles vastly outweighs their exposure to firearms. Yet in 2011, there were 32,351 gun deaths and 35,543 motor vehicle deaths nationwide. In 1999, there were 28,874 gun deaths and 42,624 motor vehicle deaths nationwide.

Firearms are the only consumer product in America not regulated by the federal government for health and safety, the group said.

Meanwhile, motor vehicle deaths are on a steady decline, thanks to decades of public health-based injury prevention strategies and proven consumer product safety regulation standards designed to reduce death and injury.

"Gun violence is a public health crisis with an unacceptable toll on human life," stated VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. "To reduce gun death and injury, firearms must be regulated for health and safety just as we regulate motor vehicles and all other consumer products." 

"Effective laws and an educated public helped to reduce the number of deaths from car crashes," states Penny Okamoto, vice president of board of directors at Ceasefire Oregon. "Oregonians can use those same tools to reduce gun violence in our state."

"Effective laws like requiring background checks for all gun sales, responsible storage of weapons, waiting periods, and prohibiting high-capacity magazines have all been proven to reduce deaths from gunfire.

"Even simple devices that reveal a bullet is still in the chamber would save many lives every year. Americans have woken up to the stark realities of gun violence and are beginning to demand responsibility from gun owners and effective laws from our legislators," Okamoto added.

The report includes specific recommendations on how the federal government should regulate firearms to reduce gun death and injury. To read the full report, visit http://www.vpc.org/studies/gunsvscars14.pdf.

Avery Palmer, the group's communications director, said the gun deaths do include suicides -- in Oregon, for example, 343 of the shootings were suicides and 62 were homicides.

"Suicides are a tragic and preventable aspect of the gun violence epidemic," Palmer wrote. "Study after study has shown that access to firearms, with their heightened lethality and immediacy compared to other suicide means, increases the chance that a suicide attempt will be completed. Suicide among veterans is also on the rise.

She shared the group's fact sheet on suicides and guns:


Here are the figures for each of the 14 states and the District of Columbia:

Alaska: 126 gun deaths, 87 motor vehicle deaths

Arizona: 964 gun deaths, 872 motor vehicle deaths

Colorado: 573 gun deaths, 512 motor vehicle deaths

District of Columbia: 86 gun deaths, 39 motor vehicle deaths

Illinois: 1,114 gun deaths, 1,080 motor vehicle deaths

Louisiana: 865 gun deaths, 750 motor vehicle deaths

Maryland: 542 gun deaths, 517 motor vehicle deaths

Michigan: 1,156 gun deaths, 1,016 motor vehicle deaths

Nevada: 376 gun deaths, 281 motor vehicle deaths

Ohio: 1,227 gun deaths, 1,178 motor vehicle deaths

Oregon: 420 gun deaths, 371 motor vehicle deaths

Utah: 308 gun deaths, 277 motor vehicle deaths

Vermont: 78 gun deaths, 62 motor vehicle deaths

Virginia: 868 gun deaths, 816 motor vehicle deaths

Washington: 624 gun deaths, 554 motor vehicle deaths


The Violence Policy Center (www.vpc.org) is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the Violence Policy Center on Facebook and follow @VPCinfo on Twitter.

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