Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr responded to the Texas church attack by contrasting car and gun ownership without pointing out that car ownership is “80 percent” riskier than owning a gun.
The mistakes Moore, the Economist, and others make is in contrasting the number of car deaths with the number of gun deaths without giving any consideration to the number of cars versus the number of guns. When one considers how close the fatality totals are for cars and guns, despite that fact that there are many more guns than cars, it is readily evident that owning a gun is a far safer choice.
Nonetheless, KSAT quoted Kerr as he talked of solving gun crime the way we allegedly solved the danger of automobiles:
To solve it, I think we almost have to look at it like a public health issue. I think too often, we get caught up in political rhetoric, 2nd amendment rights, NRA stuff. We have to look at this as it has nothing to do with partisanship or political parties. It’s got to be a public safety issue, a public health issue. I read a great article today that talked about comparing this to the automobile industry. Apparently in the 1950s, about nine or 10 times more people then died in auto wrecks than die right now. So what changed over 70 years? Safety measures, right? Speed limits, auto regulations, seatbelts, car seats, driver’s license registration and making sure people deserve to drive. All these things are safety issues, and I think we somehow have to get our government to cut through all the crap and get right to the point—point of fact, which is safety. Which means a lot of things that we can do without taking away people’s 2nd amendment rights.
There are numerous problems with Kerr’s arguments. The most obvious is that driving is not a constitutional right, so passing regulations and letting government decide which “people deserve to drive” does not violate natural rights. On the other hand, letting government decide who can exercise free speech, freedom of religion, or the right to keep and bear arms, would be a clear violation of the Bill of Rights.
Secondly, even if car deaths were reduced to the degree that Kerr believes they were, it still does not change the fact that car ownership remains a far riskier endeavor than gun ownership.
Writing in Forbes, Duke Researcher Chris Conover said:
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 resulted 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).
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.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org