The Last Word About the Gun-Automobile Comparison? Probably Not…Part Deux


A few days ago, RF penned what is now the first “last word” post, which made me think of a great Autoblog article sent to me by my car-cum-gun friend, LostLamb. Driven, if you will, by my urge to have the last word, the post you’re now reading was bound to happen. But before we dive into Pete Bigelow’s “Guns don’t actually kill as many Americans as cars” article, a personal note about my crashed woods truck, seen above . . .

Leave it to my wife to rear-end somebody who was driving a friend to PTSD therapy. PTSD that stemmed from a previous car crash…of all the people in the world to run into. Oy. After a complete freak-out and some serious hyperventilating by said PTSD sufferer, it turned out that everyone was completely fine. My wife and PTSD lady are friends on Facebook now, which also figures.

Car crashes don’t always have such happy endings, though, as 33,736 people lost their lives by vehicular means in 2014. As the media has been so excited to point out, that number is pretty darn close to the 33,599 deaths by ballistic means in the same year. Of course, the messaging has primarily been an attempt to make it sound like gun deaths have “caught up to” traffic deaths, despite the fact of the matter being entirely the opposite. Pete makes this clear, and also points out that not only have the two figures not actually merged yet, but that there’s no reason to believe they will soon:

Firearm deaths have plateaued over the past three years, while early estimates show traffic fatalities will increase by 8 to 14 percent, the sharpest year-over-year rise in more than six decades. It’s possible the lines won’t cross for the foreseeable future.

Now, if you’re looking at a bit under 34,000 deaths by car as well as by gun and thinking you’re therefore at equal likelihood of dying via either means, you’re thinking exactly how the anti-gun crowd wants you to. This is precisely the “gun violence” messaging playbook. But, it’s a sham. And Pete clearly, skillfully explains why:

…none of the 33,736 killed in motor-vehicle crashes intended to die when they departed on their morning commutes or stepped off the curb to cross the street. The total number of gun deaths reported, however, includes those who used firearms to commit suicide.

As we’re all well aware, that has been around 2/3 of the death-by-gun figures for many years. In 2014, suicides accounted for 21,334 of the 33,599 gun deaths (which is 63.5%. I’m not sure how Pete came up with the 71.6% he states in his article). If we’re speaking of rational fears and dedicating resources towards safety measures, etc., then we’re now looking at 12,000-some-odd people who died unintentionally by gunshot compared to the ~34,000 by motor vehicle.

Pete isn’t done there, though. He points out that non-suicide gun deaths…

…include homicides, “legal interventions” (as the CDC calls them), accidental shootings, and undetermined deaths…

So some percentage of non-suicide deaths — the scary ones that are ostensibly out of our control — are “legal interventions.” Another phrase for that is “justifiable homicides.” Yet another might be “defensive gun uses.” At any rate, a police officer kills an attacker and that’s +1 to the antis’ “gun violence” statistic. I can think of a few good ways to avoid being legally intervened against, so scratch those numbers from the list of gun death worry, too.

In fact, there is a lot of speculation around accidental shootings and how many of those are actually suicides. No real way to quantify it, of course, but with the various stigma around committing suicide, it’s apparent that many families choose to label those deaths as accidents instead. And before we get too terribly caught up in traffic deaths and gun deaths:

Lest you think gun deaths and motor vehicle crashes are vying for the dubious title of top cause of unintentional fatalities in America, that distinction belongs to drug overdoses, which killed a whopping 42,032 Americans in 2014…

Heck, falls accounted for 33,018 deaths in 2014. This new CDC web app is great, by the way.

Pete’s article is worth the quick read, as it makes a great point — one that’s rarely heard — in a succinct fashion. I’d highly recommend that you stick around for the comments section on the article as well, which, sorted by popularity (up-votes vs. down-votes), is pretty heartening for the pro-gun crowd. The most popular comment:


And he actually means 13.5x. Which I may not have mentioned if not for being driven, if you will, by my urge to have the last word…


  1. avatar NYC2AZ says:

    I’ve heard this “80% are gang-related” stat before and while I’m more than willing to give it credence, I haven’t been able to find a concrete nation-wide report for that claim from the CDC or FBI (just approximations that fall well below 80%). The best I have found is a few studies that have been at the city level for Milwaukee and Chicago that claim the 80% are gang-related number. There is also a section in the Kates/Mauser study that claims over 90% of homicides are committed by a person that already has a felony. If anybody can find the CDC or FBI stats for the 80% gang-related claim, I’d like to have them.

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      “There is also a section in the Kates/Mauser study that claims over 90% of homicides are committed by a person that already has a felony.”

      So why do we give half a shit about disarming the ‘mentally ill’, who obviously make up a small fraction of the remaining 10%?

      1. avatar NYC2AZ says:

        I’m not part of the “we” in that conversation. I think the mentally ill thing is a big trap.

        1. avatar DavidT says:

          You are correct sir. By redefining mentally ill they can disarm the entire population. Just defining wanting to own a gun as a paranoid condition would make this happen.

      2. avatar Cliff H says:

        The only Constitutional way to disarm a criminal or someone with a violent mental disorder is to shoot them down as soon as possible after they show intent to commit a criminal act, regardless of the weapon they choose to use and regardless of how or when they obtained that weapon.

        This is a little scary, in fact it appears to be A LOT SCARY to a lot of people, but is it any more scary than agreeing that the government has the authority to decide ahead of time that it does not think that YOU should be allowed to exercise your Second Amendment protected rights? We all know that this is exactly the game plan of the government if we continue to give them that authority under NICS or any other gun control or registration or confiscation scheme.

      3. avatar Sian says:

        “So why do we give half a shit about disarming the ‘mentally ill’, who obviously make up a small fraction of the remaining 10%?”

        I think you know the answer.

        1. avatar BDub says:

          …or the violently mentally ill who make up only 2% of that small fraction of 10%?

    2. avatar Fred says:

      In the 2012 CDC unofficial report, released October 2012, the report broke homicides down and the main category was “Gang-related activities”. This showed the number around 80% of all homicides. After an official review, and Sandy Hook, the word “gang” did not even appear in the official 2012 CDC report or any report since. Given the CDC’s past use as a political tool this should not be surprising.

      1. avatar NYC2AZ says:

        Interesting. Thanks for the info. I’ll see if I can find it still floating around on the internet.

    3. avatar djb says:

      Not only are roughly 75% of murders already known criminals, so are their victims:

      With about 12,000 murder victims per year, that means that only about 3000 of them are actually honest citizens. This gives a murder rate for honest citizens of about 1 per 100,000, which is on par with the safest areas of Europe.

      This gives numbers that are consistent with what CDC is reporting.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        It also presents us with a question that we each have to answer for ourselves, and I think there are plenty of people on each side of it. Do I really give a shit if a felon kills a felon in the course of a felony? Personally, I do not, in fact I think the survivor should be given some sort of reward. I suspect most who frequent this site will agree. But we all know there are also lots of people who would disagree, who believe it is their business, somehow, to save all those sweet, murderous felons from each other, so that they might continue turning their lives around, to become the next Jonas Salk, or whoever. This article would have absolutely no effect on those people, since suicides, gang-on-gang, or no honor among thieves all amount to GUN VIOLENCE, and all would be sweetness and light, rainbows and unicorns if it were not for those icky guns. You will NEVER convince them with those statistics.

        1. avatar djb says:

          I agree.

          How long would the drug trade last if killing someone previously convicted of either drugs or violence was automatically ruled self defense and came with a $5000 reward even if the survivor was also a known criminal?

        2. avatar Tommycat says:

          My thoughts are simple:
          If you should not be allowed your right to defend yourself with a firearm, because you cannot be trusted with that firearm not to kill someone, you should not be trusted with your freedom.

          Personally I believe the real fix is prison reform. Right now prison is where criminals learn to be harder criminals. Recidivism is VERY high. It should be a place where someone becomes a better citizen, and should be something that they come out better from, or don’t come out from at all.

      2. avatar NYC2AZ says:

        Thanks for the link!

    4. avatar uncommon_sense says:


      Commenter djb above had an excellent source article that shows something like 75% of all homicide victims are felons or criminals.

      Here is an article showing that gangs are responsible for up to 80% of crime:


      1. avatar NYC2AZ says:

        Thanks for the link!

  2. avatar mike oregon says:

    I think that the real joker in the deck is that when people were championing new technology and pushing automotive safety, they actually wanted to make cars safer, it wasn’t just the first step in pushing the” only the government can be trusted with vehicles “agenda.

    1. avatar Indiana Tom says:

      The government wants to take your cars away so they can force their collective mass transit upon the public. The Government is all about the Collective.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        That isn’t as far off track as some might think.

        I’ve seen serious articles about the need to conserve resources (and the environment) by banning single-house dwellings. Think how much larger parks and open spaces can be when housing is nothing but Soviet-style apartment blocks!

        I’ve only lived in an apartment building *once* in my life as an adult. The sounds of 8-year-old girl pop music competing with overly-vocalized rutting can really put your nerves on edge.

        That time-frame was when I developed an appreciation for high-end headphones and driver electronics. (Psssst! Secret! Tube audio ain’t the best it can be. Serious deficiencies in *accurately* reproducing the lower registers)

        But you can bet your ass the political ‘betters’ will always have a carve-out from being forced to live next to others not related to them…

        1. avatar Sixpack70 says:

          I would rather be homeless than have to live in a multi family dwelling again. I hate it that much.

        2. avatar Indiana Tom says:

          Amen. Not a big fan of apartment complexes. Yes, you can hear the neighbors mating rituals.

        3. avatar LarryinTX says:

          I had occasion to visit Singapore several times in the 1985-90 time period, while they were addressing their rather severe homeless problem, which was being helped by their welfare state allowing people to sit around and breed. The state solution was to construct a huge number of housing units, which I suppose were free or close to it, in order to get the bums out of sight of the foreigners who were coming to vacation or invest. I suppose these housing units might resemble the “tenements” or “projects” we hear of in the US, I don’t know as I’ve never been around those. As they went up, I was dazzled by the effort being put forth, they were really gorgeous buildings and they were building a BUNCH, between the airport and the main part of the city was one location where they were at work on 6 of them at a time, several miles from anything. I admired the country for their efforts until a few years later when I got close enough to one to actually see what it was. A 20-story building, with no elevators, with the front doors around 12 feet apart, half the width of the building, or maybe 15 feet deep. Had to be near 1000 units per building. Clotheslines hanging out of every window. Even that long ago, I still wonder how many people each year used that 20th floor as an avenue out of that misery.

  3. avatar NJ2AZ says:

    every time someone talks about being afraid of “gun violence” i say “Are you in a gang? Do you engage in illegal-drug related commerce? Are you in a DV situation? No? then the list of things more likely to kill you than guns is very long. Do you worry about all of those things too?”

    not that it changes anyone’s mind, but its still fun to point out

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      Do they have a planfor getting a gun when their dictator comes out of the closet?

  4. avatar Geoff PR says:

    So, the Nissan is DOA?

    Cast aluminum oil pan crushed?

    1. avatar Ian in Transit says:

      I have not looked under an Xterra or a Frontier but the Infinity QX and Nissan Pathfinders with the same VG33 engine have traditional stamped steel oil pans, interchangeable on similar models back to 1988. More likely than a cracked pan are radiator/transmission cooler/water pump/oil pump as far as the engine goes. From the picture i doubt frame damage was bad enough to push the front axle back into the lower portion of the pan.

      While it might not be road worthy right now, since he calls it his “woods truck” I doubt it would be very expensive to get it back on the road if he has the tools and time to do the work itself. Still sucks but it’s great that everybody was OK.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        Ah! OK..

        I have heard some vehicles combine engine coolant radiators and oil-tranny coolers in the same package, so that may be it.

        Yes, I’m glad no one was injured. Vehicles can be replaced, even when loved…

        1. avatar Ian in Transit says:

          The same VG33 engine was used in FWD Maxima’s. i know they changed manifolds, heads and injectors for the lateral mounted cars. They may very well have changed the cooling system as well. While the I-4 and V-6 Nissan engines carried the same name/designations during the 90s the FWD and RWD blocks and heads were not interchangeable. False advertising to people like me who love the sustainability of “lego cars”.

        2. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          It’s fine. I took an angle grinder to the sides of the bumper and rear brackets where they pushed back into the tires haha. The fenders are bent out a bit, the corner lamps are wonky because of that but work fine, the plastic grill is broken all up but clinging on with those pop rivets. The only actual mechanical damage is to the radiator fan. Smashed just enough to break its housing and brackets but it’s still functional (although fell down and is mostly loose behind the bumper) and the radiator is untouched. 1 mph faster and it would have been bad. I’m just going to zip tie the fan back where it belongs and call it a day 🙂

        3. avatar Geoff PR says:

          “It’s fine.”

          OK. Good for the wallet.

          I saw the sea of black under the engine and assumed it bled out.

          And as black as it was, I was going to make a crack about your lack of regular engine oil changes… 🙂

        4. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          Haha, no. It lives outside on the driveway so there’s a snow-free patch where it’s parked. That’s driveway you’re seeing as well as some chunks of metal and plastic that I cut off with the angle grinder.

          Although, it’s old enough with enough miles on it that fresh oil looks pretty dark after just a couple miles 😛

  5. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    I personally have had a much larger problem with people who were armed and dangerous with cars than guns.

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    my car-cum-gun friend

    Man, that is just wrong on so many levels.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      It’s perfectly proper grammar, but I admit I cracked up after writing it. Me to the wife: I think I just called my friend a c*m gun. LOL

    2. avatar JoshuaS says:

      cum means with, as in “summa cum laude, with highest praise”

      1. avatar Kit says:

        Isn’t the Latin pronounced “koom” anyway? Makes it easier to say without cracking a smile at it anyway.

      2. avatar Jeremy S. says:

        Your mom graduated cum loudely.


  7. avatar Roymond says:

    If you’re calling it “death by ballistic means”, don’t forget that includes being hit by golf balls or baseballs — not that they raise the figure by more than one or two a year.

  8. avatar Joe_thousandaire says:

    33,000 people killed by falls? Ban gravity!

  9. avatar Fred says:

    So 70% of all gun deaths are suicides, of the homicides 80% are gang-related. The rest can range between under 2000 to 2500. Even those remaining are not truly random, most homicides have some kind of connection, like an angry boyfriend, known criminal intent, and so on. If you take the high number of 2,000 as the random homicide number that’s about a 0.000006% chance of being impacted in a given year if you don’t kill yourself, are not a gang-member, and/or do not live in their territory.

    Cars on the other hand present a far more evenly distributed danger. Cars also present life-altering injuries that continue forever, even at surprisingly low speeds. I know a few people that are young that have back, knee, or neck injuries that will never heal due to car accidents. I have never met someone that has a similar impact due to guns.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      ” I have never met someone that has a similar impact due to guns.”

      Hang around areas where injured veterans can be found.

      Not all traumatic brain injury is from IEDs.

  10. avatar Don says:

    Still comparing apples to oranges.

    ~33k people UNINTENTIONALLY dead in vehicular-related incidents.

    ~33k people INTENTIONALLY dead in gun-related incidents.

    Cars are WAY MORE accidentally dangerous than guns. Since the ~33k dead in gun-related incidents (murder and suicide) are intentional, the people involved obviously had INTENT motivated by something and will obviously still have those intents and motivations regardless of the tools they have access to.

    The motivations for murder and suicide are the social problems which should be addressed if people actually care about murder and suicide.

    If someone is anti-gun and claim that they are because of murder and suicide then they are either lying or really misinformed. Equally dangerous. Those ~33k dead from murder and suicide are not a reason for anti-gun people, they are an excuse. They are a resource to exploit to accomplish the pure agenda of civilian disarmament. It’s obvious they aren’t focused on the people, because they aren’t focused on the people!

    There are plenty of other people out there who are addressing the motivations for murder and suicide through action and policy. People trying to improve policing and sentencing, correcting the revolving door justice system. People trying to end the drug war and get minor offenders out of jail, making room for violent offenders. People trying to combat discrimination, bullying, substance abuse, lack of mental health resources, and the desperation, that leads to murder and suicide. The secular community offers ethics, the religious community teaches morals. People are working to create more jobs, more opportunities for education, to get people into businesses that don’t rely on murder as a basic tool. Honest people are putting out diverse efforts into addressing the motivations for murder and suicide. They are focused on the people.


  11. avatar Glenn says:

    As long as antis insists on comparing apples and oranges:

    More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking.

    Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including nearly 42,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day.

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