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Gun deaths outnumber vehicle fatalities in Arizona

Gun deaths outnumbered deaths by motor vehicle in Arizona in 2010, a new report said. Tucson tracks the rest of the state, with more people killed by guns than by cars.

The Violence Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for stricter gun regulations, found that 12 states had higher numbers of death from firearms than deaths caused by motor vehicle. Arizona had 931 gun deaths and 795 motor vehicle deaths in 2010.

That same year, Tucson had 37 deaths by motor vehicles and 74 deaths caused by guns within the city limits, said Sgt. Chris Widmer, a Tucson Police Department spokesman. Of the 74 gun deaths, there were 36 homicides, 36 suicides and two accidental deaths.

There were 14.57 gun deaths per 100,000 Arizona residents, while there were 12.44 vehicle deaths per 100,000 residents.

Across the nation in 2010, the Violence Policy Center found, there were 35,498 deaths caused by motor vehicles and 31,672 deaths caused by guns. The state with the highest number of deaths caused by firearms was Illinois, with 1,064 gun deaths and 1,042 motor vehicle deaths.

The other states that had higher deaths by guns than motor vehicles were: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

Alaska had twice the rate of gun deaths as vehicle deaths, the highest in the nation: 20.28 deaths from firearms per 100,000, compared to 10 motor vehicle deaths per 100,000.

Josh Sugarmann, the executive director of the Violence Policy Center, feels more must be done to regulate firearms for health and safety.

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His group's report pointed to a slow by steady increase in gun deaths, while traffic fatalities have fallen dramatically since 2006. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulates vehicles, Sugarmann pointed out.

"There is no agency charged with putting in place the traditional consumer protection, public health and safety approach, that we have seen with motor vehicles," Sugarmann said. "So what you have is with cars, trucks, etcetera, we have focused on trying to make not only the product safe but the environment in which it is used [safe], with firearms it has been completely hands-off."

The report makes several recommendations for reducing the number of deaths by firearms. One recommendation being to "prohibit possession of firearms among those known to present a higher risk of misuse…" Also, the report, recommends prohibiting guns that have "no sporting purpose."

The Tucson Police Department currently has no specific programs to help reduce the number of deaths caused by guns, Widmer said.

"We are benefiting from a public health approach, a public safety approach, on how we regulate motor vehicles in this country and to begin addressing gun violence in this country we should follow the path that was blazed by motor vehicle regulation," Sugarmann said.

From the report:

Comprehensive regulation of the firearms industry and its products could include: minimum safety standards (i.e., specific design standards and the requirement of safety devices); bans on certain types of firearms such as "junk guns" and military-style assault weapons; limits on firepower; restrictions on gun possession by those convicted of a violent misdemeanor; heightened restrictions on the carrying of loaded guns in public; improved enforcement of current laws restricting gun possession by persons with histories of domestic violence; more detailed and timely data collection on gun production, sales, use in crime, involvement in injury and death; and, public education about the extreme risks associated with exposure to firearms.

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Violence Policy Center

'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 graph (above), deaths nationwide from these two consumer products are on a trajectory to intersect.' — Violence Policy Center

Gun deaths vs. vehicle deaths

12 states had more deaths from firearms than from motor vehicles in 2010, according to a study by the Violence Policy Center:

  • Alaska: 144 gun deaths, 71 motor vehicle deaths
  • Arizona: 931 gun deaths, 795 motor vehicle deaths
  • Colorado: 555 gun deaths, 487 motor vehicle deaths
  • District of Columbia: 99 gun deaths, 38 motor vehicle deaths
  • Illinois: 1,064 gun deaths, 1,042 motor vehicle deaths
  • Louisiana: 864 gun deaths, 722 motor vehicle deaths
  • Maryland: 538 gun deaths, 514 motor vehicle deaths
  • Michigan: 1,076 gun deaths, 1,063 motor vehicle deaths
  • Nevada: 395 gun deaths, 289 motor vehicle deaths
  • Oregon: 458 gun deaths, 324 motor vehicle deaths
  • Utah: 314 gun deaths, 274 motor vehicle deaths
  • Virginia: 875 gun deaths, 728 motor vehicle deaths
  • Washington: 609 gun deaths, 554 motor vehicle deaths