Report: TN gun deaths topped traffic deaths in 2013

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from Jordan Buie at The Tennessean

Just days before the National Rifle Association’s Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Nashville, a D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for gun control released an analysis Tuesday that said the state’s gun deaths surpassed motor vehicle deaths in 2013.

The Violence Policy Center said Tennessee shares this distinction with 16 other states, along with the District of Columbia.

The analysis is attributed to 2013 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. The center said 2013 is “the most recent year for which comprehensive state-level data is available.”

“The analysis found that in 2013, there were 17 states where there were more gun deaths than motor vehicle deaths: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming, along with the District of Columbia,” the center said in a news release sent out Tuesday. “More than 90 percent of American households own a car while fewer than a third of American households have a gun.

“Americans’ exposure to motor vehicles vastly outweighs their exposure to firearms. Yet nationwide, there were 33,636 gun deaths and 35,612 motor vehicle deaths in 2013.”

But the NRA said that in Tennessee in 2013 the murder rate is the lowest that it has been since the 1950s, although the number of Americans who own hand guns has tripled.

“The Violence Policy Center is led by, a former employee of the National Coalition to Ban Handguns who still advocates banning handguns,” Catherine Mortensen, NRA spokesperson said. “Since Josh Sugarmann became a handgun prohibition advocate in the 1970s, the number of handguns that Americans own has tripled and the nation’s murder rate has fallen to an all-time low.”

The news release sent out by the VPC targeted the NRA, with its large firearms trade show, for promoting guns, including “military-style, semiautomatic weapons with high-capacity ammunition magazines.”

Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, said guns should not be celebrated and criticized the “party” being thrown by the NRA.

“The NRA is planning a big party in Nashville this weekend, but in reality there is nothing to celebrate,” Sugarmann said. “Our analysis exposes the shameful fact that you are more likely to be killed with a gun than in a motor vehicle crash in Tennessee and 16 other states.”

The VPC analysis reports that in 2013 Tennessee had 1,027 motor vehicle deaths and 1,030 gun deaths.

The numbers differ from those released by the state Department of Health. State data for 2013 show 1,008 traffic-related deaths and 1,018 firearms-related deaths.

The state data show:

19 Accidental discharge of firearms
306 Assault (homicide) by discharge of firearms
19 Discharge of firearms, undetermined intent
674 Intentional self‐harm (suicide) by discharge of firearms
Mortensen said the public should not be “deceived” and that firearm accident death rates in the last six years have been lower than anytime in American history.

This is the fourth year the center has issued an annual report comparing gun deaths to motor vehicle deaths by state.