Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on February 23rd, 2015,
by Zane Cagle

Missouri Firearm Fatalities Surpass Car Crash Fatalities in 2013

Posted on February 23rd, 2015 by Zane Cagle

gun safety neededMotor vehicle deaths have been the leading cause of nonmedical cause of death across the county, but not so in Missouri during 2013.

In 2013, there were 781 motor vehicle fatalities and 880 firearm fatalities.

Some experts predict that for the first time in decades, firearms will kill more people nationwide than motor vehicles.

According to experts, there are several  long-developing trends that contribute to this change to this convergence:

  • Slow growth of firearm deaths nationwide over the last decade. While firearm deaths remain down about 15 percent from their 1990’s peak, the fatalities include a growing percentage of suicides. By 2010, suicides accounted for about six of every 10 firearm deaths.
  • Motor vehicle deaths have decreased dramatically since peaking at 54,589 nationwide in 1972. Between 1972 and 2013, motor vehicle fatalities had decreased by 35 percent.

Motor vehicle Safety Initiatives:
There have been long-sustaining campaigns by consumers, highway safety advocates and law enforcement officials to make drivers safer.  As well, advocates credit seat belts, padded dashboards, airbags, highway median guard cables and road-edge strips among other safety features.

Is it too simplistic to think that the safety models that have been used to reduce the number of motor vehicles could not be modified and applied to gun safety?

According to the Center for Disease Control, firearm fatalities grew by 13.75 percent from 2004 to 2013. A major factor in that rise in percentages is gun suicides which have been on the rise in recent years and helped push the overall firearm deaths total to 33,636 in 2013.  In Kansas City alone, there were 80 firearm homicides, but there were 240 firearm suicides.

Young people are bearing a disproportionate share of gun deaths according to a 2014 report from the Center for American Progress in Washington. In 2010, 21 percent of victims were younger than 25 years of age though young people typically make up less than 3 percent of all deaths nationwide.  Unintentional shootings claimed 3,800 lives nationwide from 2005 through 2010 and more than a third were younger than 25 years of age.

Others do not agree and don’t believe that the motor vehicle safety strategies apply to firearms.  Kevin James, head of the Gladstone-based Western Missouri Shooters Alliance said, “The people who are talking about car safety are not trying to outlaw cars, but the people who talk about gun safety are trying to outlaw guns.”

Driving Fatalities

Motor vehicle fatalities have not been as low as 750 per year since the 1940’s. In the 1940’s there were approximately 2 million licensed driver compared to 4.3 million today.  A spokesperson for the Missouri Highway Patrol credits driver education as well as steady enforcement and engineering advances. One major improvement is the installation of high-tension guard cables in highway medians to reduce cross-over crashes.  In 2002, such crashes along Interstate 70 killed 70 people. In 2007, a year after the cables were fully installed, one person died.

However, too many people still die from distracted driving, impaired driving and a refusal to wear a seat belt.  According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, Missourians only wear their seat belts 80 percent of the time which is below the national average of 86 percent. Of the 54 traffic fatalities this year, 71 percent of the victims had not been belted.

 So why even compare the two?

Operating a gun and operating a car seemingly are two different experiences and should be unrelated, however, when examining the statistics, many safety advocates suggest that the safety model used to decrease the number of motor vehicle fatalities could be applied to gun safety.  Jennie Lintz, director of public health and safety for the Washington-based Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said, “It shows us that it is possible to have a dramatic reduction in deaths and injuries if we apply the right approaches”.

SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY

Whether operating a vehicle or a gun, both can be deadly.  In this article, I am not attempting to make a political statement for or against gun control. While growing up, my father taught me how to handle a gun and how to drive a vehicle–in both,   he emphasized the importance of SAFETY.  Those same safety principles applied when he taught me how to drive a tractor and operate farm equipment. As an adolescent, I operated farm equipment, hunted game and rode  horses–all of which required thinking of safety at all times. He always taught me that you have to respect something powerful enough to kill you. Furthermore, the second you don’t respect it, it will kill or hurt you. That sentiment applied whether it was a gun, truck, tractor, or the riding lawn mower.  My dad strictly forbid horsing around while operating any of this equipment as that was by definition, a lack of respect of the threat and the surest way to get hurt or killed.

If gun sales are increasing, so should the education and safety endeavors. Obviously, the problem  between those who are trying to outlaw guns verses those who feel their gun rights are threatened is not lost on me. I have listened to many debates and I appreciate the debate on both sides.  Only if you’ve had the privilege of listening to local radio stations as you pass through various states, can you really appreciate the colorful and varied perspectives of individuals on both ends of the spectrum.  Regardless of your political standpoint—-I think we all can agree that safety has to be a priority.

We each have to do our part to continue to make driving safer as well as act responsibly if you own a gun.

When you are not responsible and someone is hurt or killed due to your actions, you can be held liable for your negligence.  Legally, you can be held responsible for causing the death of another on the roadway. As a human being, if you cause another to lose their life, that is a devastation that will follow you the rest of your life. Typically, those impacted directly by gun violence are strong advocators for safety.  Similarly, those individuals who are impacted by drunk drivers and suffer a serious injury or experience the loss of a loved one can often become motivated to be safety advocates as well. When the fatality was preventable, it is tragic, sad and maddening.

Just as children should not operate motor vehicles and should not ever have access to actually put one in motion, children should not have access to guns.    If you are going to have guns in the house, you have to constantly be vigil that children or others cannot access your gun (s).  There are safety devices such as lock boxes and safeties you can actually put on your gun–layering safety is always a good idea when it comes to guns.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle crash or if you have lost a loved one in a motor vehicle crash, you will need a car accident attorney. Our attorneys are experienced car crash attorneys. We represent seriously injured victims in Missouri and Illinois. Call toll free 1-800-685-3302, or locally 314-276-1681 for a free consultation.

 

Brunes, B. Missouri gun deaths surpass vehicle deaths in 2013, part of national trend. Kansas City Star 2/4/15