According to a new report by the Center for American Progress, guns are soon expected to surpass car collisions as the number one cause of death among young people — driving home the point that gun deaths are not rare, tragic events, but a surprisingly common danger across the country.
Three years ago, in 2010, the leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds was car accidents, which killed 7,024 people. In the same year, guns were the second largest killer, with 6,201 dying by bullet. The number of young people involved with fatal accidents, however, has been steadily declining over the past several years, while the number of deaths by gun have remained fairly unchanged. If this trend continues, guns will tie car accidents for annual deaths of those under 26 years in 2014, and pull ahead in 2015 to be the leading cause.
While death is not something to celebrate, there is one silver lining in the data: billions of dollars have been spent over the last decade in researching accidents and developing responsive technology, better guidelines, and new laws that help to prevent fatal crashes. Everything from stricter drunk driving laws, to anti-lock brakes, have helped to keep an increasing number of young people alive. About five million car crashes occur every year, but they are less and less likely to result in a tragic and irreversible loss of life.
When it comes to guns, the outlook is less positive. On the one hand, gun violence hasn’t gone up, in spite of its increasing media coverage. On the other hand, however, gun violence has barely budged even though there’s been a huge drop in violent crime over the past 20 years. Take Part wonders at this incongruence, and theorizes that, while car manufacturers have become increasingly stringent in their approach to public safety, gun laws and regulations have become even more lax, limiting any potential reduction in the number of deaths.
The Center for American Progress report indicates that, statistically, someone under the age of 25 is killed by a gun about every 70 minutes in the U.S. Surprisingly, though, this isn’t the highest it’s been. The 1980’s and 1990’s were a far more gun-happy time, with deaths peaking in 1994 at an incredible 11,000.