New York, NY- While the nation continues to grapple with the unnecessary deaths of 20 school children, by an unhinged gunman, the issue of gun control has become a hotly contested political debate. Although mass shootings are relatively rare – though there have been three in the last six months of this year—new analysis from Bloomberg News shows that gun deaths will eclipse traffic fatalities by 2015.
Aside from medical conditions, most namely heart attacks and cancer, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death in the United States. Fatal traffic accidents have been steadily trending down resulting in a 22 percent drop in traffic fatalities between 2005 and 2010. In 2010, there were 1.1 fatalities for every million miles driven.
However, fatal accidents increased in 2011 by 9 percent which can be attributed to an increase in travel due to an improving economy; fatal accidents were still lower last year than any time since 1949.
The decline in traffic accidents is due in part to stricter regulations for drivers such required seat belt use, limitations for teen drivers and other laws. Car manufactures have also contributed to the decline by offering enhanced safety features on newer model cars.
But soon gun fatalities will surpass traffic accident deaths, according to analysis by Bloomberg. Researchers from the news agency analyzed data from Atlanta’s Centers from Disease control and projected that by 2015 gun shots will become the leading cause of non-medical deaths in the U.S.
According to Bloomberg, 85 people are killed by guns every day in our country; the majority is self-inflicted gunshot wounds–suicide—while homicide is the second leading cause. Sixteen of daily gunshot victims are between the ages of 15 and 24, and the most common victims of homicide.
According to Bloomberg’s analysis, fatal shootings by homicide, suicide and accident peaked in 1993 at 37,666 deaths. By 2000, those deaths had decreased to 28,393, but in the following decade they increased to 31,328 in 2010, that averages to eight additional gun deaths every day. If the statics remain steady they will continue to rise over the next few years and become the leading cause of non-medical deaths.
Children are more likely to be the victims of an accidental shooting. Accidental shootings resulted in the 785 deaths of youths aged 1 to 14 between 1999 and 2010. In the 15 to 19 age group, 1,095 youths lost their lives to a gunshot wound; adults are less likely to be victims of accidental shootings.
While accidental shootings are significantly lower than homicides, these deaths are unnecessary and adversely impact families and our communities.
Is response to senseless murders and accidental deaths of thousands of people, many advocates of gun control have been pushing the federal government to pass stricter gun control laws , but is this really a viable solution for reducing the number of fatal shootings?
Most likely it won’t. Though restricting the number of rounds available in magazines could limit the death toll of mass shootings it won’t prevent them altogether, neither will having armed guards at schools.
Let’s remember, there was an armed guard at Columbine High School in 1999 when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and injured an additional 21 people.
Education and shift in the way our culture glamorizes guns may be the solution. Unfortunately, the majority of accidental shootings among youth occur because they have easy access to their parent’s or guardian’s firearms. These deaths can be prevented when their parents are responsible and keep their firearms from their children’s reach. Teaching children that guns aren’t toys and emphasizing their deadly nature can also prevent a number of these unnecessary accidental deaths.