The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Avery Palmer, 202-822-8200 x104,

Gun Deaths Outpaced Motor Vehicle Deaths in 12 States and the District of Columbia in 2010, New Analysis Shows

Latest state figures show motor vehicle deaths on the decline while gun deaths mount


Gun deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in 12 states and the District of Columbia in 2010, the most recent year for which comprehensive state-level data is available, a new analysis from the Violence Policy Center (VPC) shows. Nationwide, improved safety standards have steadily reduced traffic fatalities over the past decade, while firearm deaths (homicides, suicides, and fatal unintentional shootings) continue unabated.

Nationally in 2010, there were 31,672 firearm deaths and 35,498 motor vehicle deaths, compared to 28,874 firearm deaths and 42,624 motor vehicle deaths in 1999. More than 90 percent of American households own a car while little more than a third of American households contain a gun.

In 2010, gun deaths (including gun suicides, homicides, and fatal unintentional shootings) outpaced motor vehicle deaths in: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington (see below for the mortality figures for each jurisdiction). Data is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The full text of the analysis is available at

Motor vehicle deaths are on the decline as the result of a successful, decades-long, public health-based injury prevention strategy that includes safety-related changes to vehicles and highway design, informed by comprehensive data collection and analysis. Meanwhile, firearms are the only consumer product not regulated by the federal government for health and safety.

"Proven injury prevention strategies have been very effective in reducing deaths on our highways," said VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. "The time is long overdue to apply an equally comprehensive strategy to reduce gun deaths in America."

Here are the figures for each of the 12 states and the District of Columbia:

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

To reduce the death toll from firearms just as we are now reducing deaths from motor vehicles, the report makes several specific recommendations, including the following:

  • Detailed and timely collection on gun production, sales, and use in crime.
  • Minimum safety standards for firearms (i.e., specific design standards and the requirement of safety devices).
  • Prohibit certain types of guns that have no sporting purpose, including military-style assault weapons.
  • Limit the firepower of firearms available to the general public (e.g., by restricting magazine capacity).
  • Prohibit possession of firearms among those known to present a higher risk of misuse, such as those convicted of a violent misdemeanor.

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) works to stop gun death and injury through research, education, advocacy, and collaboration. Founded in 1988 by Executive Director Josh Sugarmann, a native of Newtown, Connecticut, the VPC informs the public about the impact of gun violence on their daily lives, exposes the profit-driven marketing and lobbying activities of the firearms industry and gun lobby, offers unique technical expertise to policymakers, organizations, and advocates on the federal, state, and local levels, and works for policy changes that save lives. The VPC has a long and proven record of policy successes on the federal, state, and local levels, leading the National Rifle Association to acknowledge us as "the most effective ... anti-gun rabble-rouser in Washington."