PHOENIX — A new report from a gun-control advocacy group found that gun deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in Arizona and 16 other states.
The nonprofit Violence Policy Center based it numbers on statistics from the Center for Disease Control. According that data, 941 people were killed by a firearm in Arizona in 2013 while 863 people died on the road that year.
“What you have seen is, through public information and increased safety and federal oversight, you have seen a rapid decline in automobile deaths,” ProgressNow Arizona Executive Director Robbie Sherwood said.
Sherwood said he believed the CDC numbers proved that strict driving regulations have saved lives but a lack of firearm restrictions has led to preventable deaths.
“There does need to be some commonsense health and safety regulations around guns and then you might see the same decline in deaths that you see with automobiles,” he said.
“Not all the 900 gun deaths are accidental but many, many of them are preventable enough to I believe, create a sharp decline in the numbers that we are seeing.”
Arizona gun rights advocates said the statistics cited by the Violence Policy Center study do not account for several key factors that cause gun deaths to be higher than vehicle deaths.
“Whenever you talk about deaths where firearms are involved at all, you have to look at all kinds of factors and this study does not look at any of those factors,” Todd Rathner, Arizona-based NRA National Board of Directors member, said.
Arizona’s high rate of gang and cartel violence caused a disproportionate spike in gun deaths, according to Rathner.
He said another factor that was omitted from the study was the rate of suicide by gun.
“The incidents of suicides is, while in Arizona it is not disproportionate, but people don’t commit suicides by car so to compare the two is utter nonsense,” he said.
A recent CDC study found the majority of gun deaths in the United States are suicides. From 2000 to 2010, suicides accounted for 61 percent of all firearm-related deaths nationwide.