For the better part of a century, the machine most likely to kill an American has been the automobile.
Car crashes killed 33,561 people in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Firearms killed 32,251 people in the United States in 2011, the most recent year for which the Centers for Disease Control has data.
But this year gun deaths are expected to surpass car deaths. That's according to a Center for American Progress report, which cites CDC data that shows guns will kill more Americans under 25 than cars in 2015. Already more than a quarter of the teenagers—15 years old and up—who die of injuries in the United States are killed in gun-related incidents, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Young People Have an Increased Risk of Gun Violence
A similar analysis by Bloomberg three years ago found shooting deaths in 2015 "will probably rise to almost 33,000, and those related to autos will decline to about 32,000, based on the 10-year average trend." And from The Economist, which wrote about the projection over the weekend:
Comparing the two national icons, cars and guns, yields “a statistic that really resonates with people," says Chelsea Parsons, co-author of the report for the Centre for American Progress. Resonance is certainly needed. There are about 320 [million] people in the United States, and nearly as many civilian firearms. And although the actual rate of gun ownership is declining, enthusiasts are keeping up the number in circulation.
The figures may say more about a nation's changing relationship with the automobile than they reveal about America's ongoing obsession with guns.