Report: In 10 States, Guns Kill More People Than Cars Do

A report by the Violence Policy Center shows that deaths caused by firearms outpaced deaths caused by motor vehicles in 10 states in 2009. Deaths caused by cars still outpace those caused by guns nationally, 36,361 to 31,236. The ten states in which there were more gun deaths then car deaths are: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, Washington.

StateGun DeathsMotor Vehicle DeathsAlaska10484Arizona856809Colorado583565Indiana735715Michigan1,095977Nevada406255Oregon417394Utah260256Virginia836827Washington623580

According to VPC, a successful decades-long public health-based injury prevention strategy has resulted in a 43% decline in motor-vehicle deaths since 1966. That strategy includes making changes to vehicles and highways to increase safety. Meanwhile, firearms are subject to limited regulation, and the rate of gun deaths remain largely unchanged. VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand says

Americans are reaping the benefits of smart safety regulation of motor vehicles. The idea that gun deaths exceed motor vehicle deaths in 10 states is stunning when one considers that 90 percent of American households own a car while fewer than a third own firearms. It is also important to consider that motor vehicles — unlike guns — are essential to the functioning of the entire U.S. economy.


Gun rights supporters have reacted to the study predictably by questioning both the analysis and the motivation of VPC. Arizona State Sen. Frank Antenori (R-Vail) said that comparing deaths caused by firearms with those caused by cars is unfair because while car deaths are accidental, most gun deaths are not, while the Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners questioned how VPC connected a firearm to a death. Nevertheless, if public policy makers ignore the data the number of states where there are more gun than car deaths is likely only to increase.

— Alex Brown