As a nation, we should be able to have adult discussions about gun violence and ways to reduce the problem without things devolving into shouting matches between those who want regulations and those who think there should be none.
The Violence Policy Center this week released its annual report in which it compares gun deaths to motor vehicle deaths in the U.S. Maryland is one of 14 states, the report notes, where gun deaths surpassed auto-related deaths in 2011, the most recent year that data was available.
VPC says the data comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Gun deaths include gun suicides, homicides, and fatal unintentional shootings; motor vehicle deaths include both occupants and pedestrians.
The other states where gun deaths outpaced auto deaths were Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington State, as well as the District of Columbia.
"More than 90 percent of American households own a car while little more than a third of American households have a gun. Americans' exposure to motor vehicles vastly outweighs their exposure to firearms. Yet in 2011, there were 32,351 gun deaths and 35,543 motor vehicle deaths nationwide," the VPC noted.
VPC notes that firearms aren't regulated for health and safety by the federal government. "Meanwhile, motor vehicle deaths are on a steady decline, thanks to decades of public health-based injury prevention strategies and proven consumer product safety regulation standards designed to reduce death and injury."
True, but driving a motor vehicle isn't guaranteed under our constitution. The Second Amendment specifically states the right of citizens to keep and bear arms, and ignoring that is part of the problem that often has the two sides on this issue at each other's throats.
Gun advocates worry that any regulations would only be a foot in the door for government to continue to take away Second Amendment rights. History would suggest they have a legitimate point on that.
At the same time, fighting against any regulations what-so-ever, including basic things such as background checks, is counter-productive.
In truth, there are reasonable things that reasonable people should be able to agree on, including better enforcement of existing laws and tougher penalties for those who break the law, that could move the conversation forward and help us reduce gun deaths in our country. We just have to want to do it.