Guns Now Kill More People Than Cars Do

Semi-automatic rifles are seen for sale in a gun shop in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 4th, 2017.

Cars are dangerous. Riding in a car is the single most dangerous discretionary activity that I do nearly every day, and I’ve always assumed that they remained the most dangerous objects in the country. As of 2017, though, the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that, for the first time, guns are killing more Americans than motor vehicles. Perhaps more important than the raw numbers, though, are the reasons behind them: Thanks to significant public and private sector research into automobile safety, coupled with widespread concern in the industry about vulnerability to class-action lawsuits, cars are getting safer and safer. Guns, meanwhile, get more and more dangerous.

We knew this day would come. As of 2015, as Christopher Ingraham reported in the Washington Post, guns and cars had come to cause a roughly equivalent number of deaths. Ingraham noted that we’d seen a steady, transformative, rise in automobile safety driven by technical innovation and policy shifts. Advances like seatbelts, anti-lock brakes, airbags, rear-view cameras, and collision warnings have been followed by regulations that require automobile makers to install these devices in their vehicles, and for drivers and passengers to use them. Consumer groups and lawyers have helped make cars safer as well: From Ralph Nader’s attack on the Chevrolet Corvair in the 1960s to the Toyota unintentional acceleration lawsuit settled in 2015, the threat of financial ruin at the hands of lawyers has propelled motor vehicles toward safety.

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