On October 28, actress Julianne Moore claimed gun control should be pursued in the same way that “car safety” laws pertaining to seat belts and drunk driving were pursued in days gone by.
Moore recalled a time when driving drunk or without a seat-belt was not “taboo,” and therefore neither behavior was punished the way it is today. She cited Mothers Against Drunk Drivers as causal in making drunk driving taboo and securing laws around the country to punish those who drink to much then climb behind the wheel.
Writing in the Huffington Post, Moore said, “Countless lives have been saved” via drunk driving and seat-belt laws and she suggested that the same approach that secured the passage of those laws needs to be used to secure gun control. In essence, Moore is suggesting that gun control be pursued as a type of seat-belt law for gun owners.
Moore admitted that securing gun control legislation at the federal level has been elusive, but she claimed the gun control movement has made “dramatic progress in states and cities across the country.” Yet she lamented that she and her fellow gun control advocates “haven’t done for gun safety what [has been] done for auto safety.”
In making this assertion, Moore overlooks the fact that “auto safety” actually lags far behind true gun safety. Duke University researcher Chris Conover has shown conclusively that owning a car is “80 percent“riskier than owning a gun, as it relates to the lives of others. He demonstrates this by pointing to statistics for 2013, when there were approximately 33,000 firearm-related deaths and 33,000 auto-related deaths. Conover explained that the death figures–although both 33,000–do not tell a story of equal safety but of a much higher risk of danger from a car than a gun.
Writing in Forbes, Conover explained that there were roughly 350 million guns in America in 2013 and roughly 269 million cars. The fact that there were nearly 100 million fewer cars than guns yet car-related deaths equaled gun-related deaths indicates that cars are simply riskier; it takes far fewer of them to cause the number of fatalities found in something much more ubiquitous–guns.
Conover goes through and dissects his findings–breaking them down into categories of intentional deaths, accidental deaths, suicide–then suggests that “progressives” who are truly interested in saving lives should switch their focus from guns to cars.
[Progressives] 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. Instead of derisively sneering at those who “cling to guns” out of bitterness, perhaps they ought to ask themselves why guns rather than cars invite their scorn.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.