Accidental Deaths

Myth: Accidental gun fatalities are a serious problem

ACCIDENTAL GUN DEATHS -  U.S. Accidental Death Rate by CauseFact: Firearm misuse causes only a small number of accidental deaths in the U.S. 1 For example, compared to being accidentally killed by a firearm, you are:

  • Five times more likely to burn to death
  • Five times more likely to drown
  • 17 times more likely to be poisoned
  • 17 times more likely to fall to your death
  • And 68 times more likely to die in an automobile accident

Fact: In 2007, there were only 54 accidental gun deaths for children under age 13. About 12 times as many children died from drowning during the same period. 2

Fact: In 2007, there were 999 drowning victims and 137 firearm-related accidental deaths in age groups 1 through 19. This despite the fact that firearms outnumber pools by a factor of more than 30:1. Thus, the risk of drowning in a pool is nearly 100 times higher than dying from a firearm-related accident for everyone, and nearly 500 times for children ages 0-5. 3

ACCIDENTAL GUN DEATHS -  U.S. Accidental Firearm Death Rate 1981 through 2013Fact: Medical mistakes kill 400,000 people per year – the equivalent of almost three fully loaded Boeing 747 jet crashes per day – or about 286 times the rate of all accidental firearm deaths. 4 This translates into 1 in 6 doctors causing an accidental death, and 1 in 56,666 gun owners doing the same.

Fact: Only 2% of gun deaths are from accidents, and some insurance investigations indicate that many of these may not be accidents after all. 5

Fact: Around 2,000 patients each year — six per day — are accidentally killed or injured in hospitals by registered nurses. 6

Myth: Handguns are unsafe and cause accidents

Fact: Most fatal firearm accidents involve long guns, which are more deadly. These are typically hunting accidents. 7

Fact: Handguns have triggers that are difficult for small (child) hands to operate, and are rarely the cause of accidents.. 8

Myth: Innocent bystanders are often killed by guns

Fact: Less than 1% of all gun homicides involve innocent bystanders. 9

Myth: Citizens are too incompetent to use guns for protection

Fact: About 11% of police shootings kill an innocent person — about 2% of shootings by citizens kill an innocent person. The odds of a defensive gun user killing an innocent person are less than 1 in 26,000 10 despite American citizens using guns to prevent crimes almost 2,500,000 times every year.

Fact: Most firearm accidents are caused by people with various forms of poor self-control. These include alcoholics, people with previous criminal records, people with multiple driving accidents, and people who engage in other risky behaviors. 11

Myth: Gun accidents are flooding emergency rooms

Fact: The rate of gun accidents is so low that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission doesn’t even mention them in their annual safety reports.

Myth: “Junk” guns are dangerous and should be banned

Fact: In the history of the state of California, not one lawsuit against a gun maker had been filed (until 2003) based on a weapon being defective or poorly designed. 12

Myth: Guns should be made to conform to product liability laws

Fact: Guns are already covered under product liability laws. If you have a defective gun that does not operate properly, you can sue the gun maker.


Notes:

  1. WISQARS Injury Mortality Report, Center for Disease Control, 2007
  2. WISQARS Injury Mortality Report, Center for Disease Control, 2007
  3. National Center for Health Statistics, and the National Spa and Pool Institute
  4. Medical death statistics, Gun deaths, Dr. David Lawrence, CEO Kaiser Permanente, CDC report 1993
  5. Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, Gary Kleck, Aldine de Gruyter 1997 at 293-324
  6. Chicago Tribune report, Sept 10, 2000
  7. Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, Gary Kleck , Aldine de Gruyter 1997, at 293-324
  8. Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, Gary Kleck , Aldine de Gruyter 1997, at 293-324
  9. Stray bullets and ‘mushrooms’, Sherman, Steele, Laufersweiler, Hoffer and Julian, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 1989
  10. Shall Issue: The New Wave of Concealed Handgun Permit Laws, C. Cramer, and D. Kopel, Independence Institute Issue Paper. October 17, 1994
  11. Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, Gary Kleck, Aldine de Gruyter, 1997, at 307, 312
  12. California Trial Lawyers Association, 1998