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October 31, 2013

Bloomberg Misleads with Guns to Cars Comparison


Bloomberg News recently published an editorial called, “Why Guns Will Soon Top Cars on List of Killers.” Not surprisingly, the author, Francis Wilkinson, picks and chooses his data to argue that automobiles are getting safer while the firearms industry “has resisted even attempting similar gains.”

It’s easy to get data to tell a pre-conceived, inaccurate story that plays into anti-gun groups’ messages. The author waxes poetic about the car “safety revolution” and refers to dramatic decreases in mortality rates since 1958. No argument there.

Where he goes wrong is in not looking at the same trends for firearms mortalities. Instead of showing that since 1992 accidents are down 57% from1,409 to 606, even as 112 million more firearms entered the market, the author merely cites the annual figure for total mortalities and moves on to blame the industry and “an ideology-infused gun culture” for resisting safety improvements.

Forget about the fact that more deaths are caused by cars or poisoning, he is also missing the fact that almost two-thirds of the annual firearms mortality figure is due to suicide. Even anti-gun extremists would have a hard time arguing that new safety features would prevent those unfortunate, but deliberate, tragedies.

Demonizing the firearms industry and calling gun owners “reckless” gets us no closer to a discussion about how to best keep guns away from those that should not have access. The firearms and ammunition industry is ready with ideas for policymakers, and with our own initiatives to help make our homes and communities safe.

Larry Keane is senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @lkeane.