Duke Researcher: Owning A Car ’80 Percent’ Riskier Than Owning A Gun


Like a sledge hammer falling on a glass table, Duke Researcher Chris Conover has dropped scholarly methods and results on the anti-gun rhetoric regarding gun ownership versus car ownership to show that owning a car is “80 percent” riskier than owning a gun, as it relates to the lives of others.

Conover is Research Scholar at the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research at Duke University.

Writing in Forbes, Conover pointed to myriad arguments put forth by gun control groups on the topic–all of them contending that the level of gun deaths vs the level of car deaths show gun ownership most dangerous. Breitbart news previously reported that such arguments have been put forth by The Economist, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, among others.

But Conovor shows that those making these claims are basing them on the number of deaths–gun-related deaths vs car-related deaths–without taking into account how many tens of millions more guns there are than cars in this country.

Conover sets forth the raw numbers:

There were 310 million guns in the U.S. in 2009 (a Congressional Research Service figure have no reason to dispute), a figure that likely grew to perhaps 350 million by 2013. These guns result in 33,000 deaths in 2013, of which 64% were suicides, leaving 500 accidental deaths and 11,200 due to homicides.

There were 269 million registered vehicles in the U.S. in 2013. These result in 33,000 deaths a year, roughly half of which are drivers (these are official NHTSA statistics).

Then he explains how and why to distinguish between self-harm and harm to others, and draws an inference based on the facts:

In this sharply divided country, there surely is also strong disagreement about the extent to which government ought to be protecting citizens from self-harm. But I presume that a broad spectrum of the public on both sides of the aisle would agree there is an appropriate government role in protecting citizens from being harmed by one another. So if we leave aside self-inflicted deaths, the average car is 1.8 times as risky as the average gun. That is, my owning a car is 80 percent more likely to result in the death of another person my owning a gun.

To drive the point home, Conover shows that even when the focus is on accidental deaths car ownership and operation is far riskier than gun ownership and operation.

Working from figures included in Table 10 of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Death and Mortality figures for 2013, Conover shows that the number of accidental firearm-related deaths for that year was approximately “1.4 deaths per million guns.” That works out to “less than 2” accidental deaths a day.

On the other hand, even if you take out drunk drivers from the number of accidental car deaths for 2013–something which Conover does by citing the argument that drunk driving alone is a crime that could mitigate categorizing a resulting crash as an accident–even then, the number of accidental car deaths was approximately 12,700 for the year. That works out to “36.2 accidental deaths for every million vehicles.”

The conclusion? “The typical car is 25 times more as likely to kill someone accidentally as the typical gun.”

Conover writes:

So again, in light of these eye-opening but indisputable facts, why is gun ownership so vilified by progressives? They could save literally 25 times as many lives by convincing a single typical car owner to drive more responsibly than convincing a single typical gun owner to use their weapon more responsibly.

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.