Accidental gun deaths do not outweigh other causes.

The anti-gun Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence recently told Newsweek that accidental shootings are one of the most common causes of death and kill nearly 500 people in the United States every year. To be blunt, that’s a flat-out lie. Accidental gun deaths are very low on the list of accidental deaths in the U.S. every year.

Accidental Gun Deaths

Yes, accidental gun deaths are quite high in the United States by all means. Following only heart disease, cancer, and Covid-19 in causes of death for the year 2020. Yet the roughly 500 accidental gun deaths are a very small portion of the 200,000 accidental deaths each year. They account for only about one-quarter of one percent of all deaths.

Interestingly, that doesn’t keep gun-ban groups and anti-gun politicians from spouting off about firearm accidents quite often. And it doesn’t keep so-called “mainstream” media outlets from printing their lies without question. Despite the fact that it’s easy to check the figures with a simple internet search.

Fact is, many in the media want to push these rare accidental firearm deaths to the forefront at every opportunity. To even be able to list gun accidents in a recent news story, CBS news dragged out its findings all the way to number 59—ironically exactly where accidental firearms deaths ranked—and headlined the story, “Death index: Top 59 ways Americans die.”

You can almost envision a CBS editor in the newsroom perusing a Top 50 deaths story, realizing that accidental firearm deaths didn’t make the list and instructing the “reporter” to extend the list as long as it took to get gun accidents included.

More Prominent Accidental Fatalities

Of the accidental deaths that are far higher than accidental firearm fatalities, accidental drug overdose tops the list. Resulting in more than 93,000 deaths in 2020. That’s about 186 times more accidental deaths than were attributed to firearms accidents for that year. And while media sometimes report on the phenomenon, many are proponents of legalizing more drug use, instead of limiting it.

Fatal vehicle accidents are also much higher than accidental gun deaths. Totaling more than 40,000 a year the past few years, despite less travel due to Covid. That means the average American is 80 times more likely to be killed in a car accident than a firearms accident. Have you seen any headlines lately calling for a ban on high-capacity sedans?  

As for the often-repeated media statement, “Firearms now kill more people than vehicle accidents,” that’s not even remotely comparing apples to apples. First, with the spike in vehicular fatalities over the past few years, the statement is false anyway. But what they’re talking about is all deaths involving firearms—murders, suicides, etc.—and comparing that to accidental deaths from car wrecks.

A better comparison is deaths by firearm accidents and accidental vehicle fatalities. Which calculates out to about 1.2 accidental gun deaths to every 100 vehicle deaths.

Obscure Causes of Accidental Death

Most probably also don’t realize that 34-times more Americans die each year from accidental falls than from firearm accidents. According to the latest figures, about 17,000 people die annually from such accidents. I haven’t noticed any media outlets clamoring to try to reduce this number.

Going to work is also quite dangerous. There were 4,764 fatal work injuries in 2020, meaning someone died every 111 minutes from a work-related injury. That’s more than nine times higher than accidental firearm deaths. Still, the media doesn’t report that as an “epidemic.”

Another accidental fatality that is far more common than firearm accidents is drowning. About 4,000 people drown in the United States each year—about eight times more than are killed in firearm accidents. Yet you don’t see many headlines reporting about a “drowning epidemic” or legislation limiting swimming pool ownership.

It’s a Long Way from the Top

The truth is you have to go far down the list of accidental causes of death to reach firearm accidents. And while it would be refreshing for mainstream media to report that fact, we’ll likely never see it done.

Of course, even one accidental firearm death is one too many. That’s why organizations like the National Rifle Association have taught gun safety to millions upon millions of Americans over the past several decades, and continue to do so each and every day. Many other organizations do likewise.

Bottom line: It’s a dangerous world out there. But despite what many in the media would have you think, being killed in a firearm accident is far less likely than most other accidental ways to perish.

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