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10 States Where Guns Kill More People Than Cars

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on June 04, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's often said that guns don't kill people, people kill people. But a new analysis finds people with guns cause more deaths per capita than people with cars in 10 U.S. states.

In those states, you are more likely to be killed by a person wielding a gun than in a car accident, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center. The analysis compared gun-related and motor-vehicle death rates in 2009, the most recent year with state-level data in both categories.

On average, the United States saw 10.19 gun-related deaths and 11.87 car-accident deaths per 100,000 people in 2009. Compare that to the Top 10 states with the highest gun-related death rates:

1. Nevada -- Gun-related death rate: 15.36 per 100,000; Motor-vehicle death rate: 9.65 per 100,000.

2. Alaska -- Gun death rate: 14.89; Motor-vehicle death rate: 12.03.

3. Arizona -- Gun death rate: 12.98; Motor-vehicle death rate: 12.27.

4. Colorado -- Gun death rate: 11.60; Motor-vehicle death rate: 11.24.

5. Indiana -- Gun death rate: 11.44; Motor-vehicle death rate: 11.13.

6. Michigan -- Gun death rate: 10.98; Motor-vehicle death rate: 9.80.

7. Oregon -- Gun death rate: 10.90; Motor-vehicle death rate: 10.30.

8. Virginia -- Gun death rate: 10.61; Motor-vehicle death rate: 10.49.

9. Washington state -- Gun death rate: 9.35; Motor-vehicle death rate: 8.70.

10. Utah -- Gun death rate: 9.34; Motor-vehicle death rate: 9.19.

Car accident deaths are actually declining nationwide, but gun-related deaths "continue unabated -- the direct result of the failure of policymakers to acknowledge and act on this ubiquitous and too often ignored public health problem," the Violence Policy Center's analysis states.

The statistics are also notable because 90% of U.S. households own cars, but fewer than one-third of households own guns, the VPC's legislative director told The Huffington Post.

Critics, however, say it's unfair to compare firearm deaths, which are usually not accidental, to car crashes, which usually are. "Do you use a car in self-defense?" one Arizona lawmaker told the Cronkite News Service. A gun is "only as safe as the individual that uses it," he said.

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