Considering the Lame Argument That Asserts Cars Kill More People Than Guns

Someone would have to be detached from reality to compare guns to automobiles as an intentional killing tool.  One doesn’t run to the driveway to get their weapon of choice to commit homicide.  They pull it out of their night stand drawer by the bed they sleep in.

Well, when you put it like that…

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Car or Gun: Which poses the greater threat in domestic violence cases, suicides and homicides?

In their defense of unlimited and unrestricted gun ownership 2nd amendment zealots always like to inform those of us who support sane gun-control measures that limiting and restricting gun ownership isn’t going to stop people from killing other people.   They then like to go on and tell us that cars kill more people than guns.  “Are we then expected  to get rid of cars because people die from them” they lamely argue.  It’s the same convoluted arguments comparing other objects to guns used in killings.

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But the don’t tread on me crowd won’t be able to use the gun vs. car death argument much longer.  2013 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, the most recent nationwide numbers available, reveal that though auto accidents – 33,804 – did exceed the number of gun related deaths – 33,636,  they did so by less than 1%.   Not surprisingly we’re finding that in some states, death by gun now exceeds deaths by automobile, with an upward trend in more gun deaths than automobile deaths.  Where we demand that cars and trucks be made smarter and safer to reduce traffic deaths, the same cannot be said for guns and those who deal in them.

Now the gun zealots will point out that most of the gun related deaths were suicides – about 60% – but all this actually demonstrates is that the gun is the choice for those who want to terminate their life for obvious reasons.  It is the easiest, swiftest and least likely way of failing for someone who wants to end it all.  There is also the high probability that gun-related suicides are so high because they are in easy reach and tend to occur in those states where many homes own guns.   Why get in a car and find a bridge or mountain road to run it off of when suicidal urges strike, when the more immediate means of carrying this out is available in the next room?

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I think one can also safely say that most automobile deaths are accidents whereas gun deaths are almost exclusively intentional.

Gun deaths are significantly higher in the U.S. over other developed countries for one simple reason – ease of access to guns through relaxed gun laws.     In states with high household gun ownership rates, gun deaths are significantly higher than states with the lowest household gun ownership rates.  Alaska for example, with the highest household gun ownership rate in the U.S. has nearly 20 gun deaths per 100,000 population where Hawaii with the lowest household gun ownership rate has just under 3 gun deaths per 100,000 population.

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The notion that we are safer with guns at our disposal is not backed up by the research.  Guns can make people feel psychologically safer “but studies show they actually make us less safe. Statistically, if you own a gun, it’s more likely to be used to kill you or someone you love than a stranger in self-defense.”

89% of unintentional shooting deaths of children
occur in the home—and most of these deaths occur when
children are playing with a loaded gun in their parents’
absence.  SOURCE

So when you remove the factors that makes guns the choice of suicides and demonstrate that merely having a gun in your home will likely kill more loved ones than “bad guys”, the argument that cars kill more people than guns loses credibility rather quickly.  According to the 2013 report from the Institute of Medicine of National Academies, “Few other consumer goods available to Americans are as deadly as guns.  Using guns, we kill ourselves and each other in a yearly slaughter of war-time proportions.”

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It should be noted here too, as I have done in every argument that raises the gun issue, that automobiles are not designed to kill humans.  They are designed to take us from point A to point B.  We travel to entertainment venues, church and vacation spots with our families in automobiles.  Some of us have perhaps made love for the first time in the back seat of our car or the bed of our pickup truck.   Strict laws by states require all of us to prove we have the skills to safely operate an automobile.

Guns on the other hand are designed for one thing and one thing only.  To kill or maim.  Owning and using a gun has fewer state restrictions in many states than the licensing process for car ownership.  In my home state of Texas for example, it takes less training to get a gun than a driver’s license if you’re under 25.

Burglars don’t threaten store cashiers with their cars.   A car doesn’t accidentally discharge killing someone you care about.  Women and children are not held hostage with cars in domestic violence cases.   Gang members and terrorists would be highly unsuccessful at their trades if they tried to intimidate people by running them over.  It is the deadly ease of gun power that allows death rates in the U.S. to exceed other civilized societies.

Five frightening facts about guns and women…

46- Number of American women shot to death each month by current or former intimate partners.

500% – A woman is this much more likely to be killed in a domestic violence situation where a gun is present.

44% – Proportion of women murdered with guns who were killed by current or former intimate partners (in 2011).

57% – Proportion of mass shootings that involve incidents of domestic violence (2009-2013).

1100% – Women in the U.S. are this much more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high-income countries.           SOURCE

No doubt some people more than others live in fear for their safety because they live in high crime neighborhoods.  And it makes sense to own a firearm to protect yourself where such threats remain unchecked.   The Institute of Medicine report mentioned earlier noted “that crime victims who actively used a gun to defend themselves had lower rates of injury than crime victims who did not use guns to defend themselves” but was also careful to show that though defensive gun use is a fact, “it is difficult to count accurately.”  In other words, claims that guns do more to defend potential victims than they do harm are just not backed up by reliable data.

But the misguided passion to defend gun ownership over everything else is now at a level that threatens the public safety in this country than at any other time in our history.  Even the founding fathers who inserted the “right to keep and bear arms” in part of the 2nd amendment of the Constitution never intended gun ownership to reach the levels it has and for the purposes that exist in 2015.   In 18th century America second amendment rights were based partially on English common-law “[that] was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Sir William Blackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense, resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state”

It is the fear perpetrated by the gun lobby that the government is out to take your guns away, creating the high level of divisiveness among the American public on how best to deal with the serious issue of gun violence.  Gun ownership proponents and gun-control advocates can have their cake and eat it too if we jettison the angry vitriol that the NRA and their cohorts insert into the dialogue.  A conversation that rationalizes what constitutes gun ownership limits will have to be a part of the dialogue between the differing views.   That conversation always needs to focus on the mental health issues that can lead some individuals to act out their worst fears.  Fears that become deadly and threaten domestic life in this country when easy access to guns are prevalent.

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Most societies have their culture of violence but only in the U.S. do we accommodate that culture to make it the deadliest among developed nations.

14 responses to “Considering the Lame Argument That Asserts Cars Kill More People Than Guns

  1. The gun ban enacted in Australia tells the story.

    from the Washington Post

    So what have the Australian laws actually done for homicide and suicide rates? Howard cites a study (pdf) by Andrew Leigh of Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University finding that the firearm homicide rate fell by 59 percent, and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65 percent, in the decade after the law was introduced, without a parallel increase in non-firearm homicides and suicides. That provides strong circumstantial evidence for the law’s effectiveness.

    • Exactly John. This is one reason why 2nd amendment zealots use these bogus comparisons – guns vs. cars – to distract people from information that weakens their case. Thanks for sharing that.

      • I was no fan of John Howard, but the ban was a great thing, and his explanation for why it had to happen was perfectly framed: “a national health and safety issue.”

  2. Bingo! Hit the nail right on the head. And why are we so fearful that we need all of those guns? To whose advantage is it that we exist in a state of fear? Who benefits? Uh huhn.

    • “Who benefits?”

      Gun manufacturers. The only enterprise that creates jobs that contribute to killing many other job holders. Think how competitive the job market would be if they weren’t preventing 30,000 a year from entering the job market. 😦

  3. They then like to go on and tell us that cars kill more people than guns. “Are we then expected to get rid of cars because people die from them” they lamely argue.

    My response to that is, “Sure, why not?” Seeing as both are Holy Sacraments in America’s Death Cult, if you’re attacking one, you might as well attack the other. To be honest, they both deserve it.

    Even though we’ve made cars infinitely safer than they used to be, they still keep on killing at the rate of objects designed to kill. Perhaps we should really start viewing cars as guns with wheels? Truth is, most Americans treat them that way (and drive them that way). They are consumer items that are largely extensions of the male ego and, unsurprisingly, result in a lot of violent deaths. Both are really unnecessary in a properly functioning society. Both make society function more difficult to function properly.

    I know I’d feel a lot safer if both disappeared.

    • “Perhaps we should really start viewing cars as guns with wheels?”

      Now you’re making me even more nervous than I already am about riding my bike on public streets. 😦

  4. … also country bordered with the largest drug cartels in the world … also country with the largest gang activity in the world with guns provided illegally that aren’t traceable …

  5. how about the number of deaths caused by the use of alcohol – drunk driving, health issues … how about the number of women and children abused, raped, and killed because of alcohol consumption … oh … but let’s put commercials of it on our televisions inviting more more more …

  6. This is a great read, cleverly written & it gets straight to the point. Very interesting for people who won’t read past headlines. Counteracts many points to NRA arguments.
    I’d love if you could update this. I’ve used many of your points in debating second amendment zealots, and I’m completely “written off” because the article is not updated.
    I would really appreciate it.

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