According to a new report from the CDC, the number of annual gun-related deaths in America is now equal to the number of deaths caused by fatal car crashes. This is the result of long-term trends in car safety and the steady dissolution of gun control law.
The number of fatal car crashes has dropped precipitously in the last 50 years or so due in large part to stricter laws regarding car safety and general technological innovation. Together, drunk driving laws, seatbelt laws, and universal airbags brought car-related deaths down from 25 per 100,000 people to about 10.
With guns, though, it’s the opposite. While the uptick in gun-related deaths hasn’t been as dramatic as the drop in car-related fatalities, the change over time is similarly related to changes in legislation.
As The Washington Post points out, the path towards widespread regulation of guns in America has been fraught with opposition from gun-rights activists. The dissolution of bans on assault weapons, resistance to legislation that would mandate universal background checks, and a degree of legal immunity for gun manufacturers have, together, created an environment where it can be relatively easy to obtain a firearm.
Further exacerbating the gun problem is the ban on federal funds from being used to study gun violence in the U.S. At present, it’s thought that there are only about twelve organizations studying guns in the U.S. full-time, and they are all constantly plagued by institutional roadblocks.
“Within public health, injury and violence research is underfunded, and within injury and violence research, firearms are incredibly underfunded,” Harvard Injury Control researcher David Hemenway told The Trace. “I care about my students, so I specifically tell them, ‘Don’t do this.’ It’s an incredible sacrifice.”