In a report released by the Violence Policy Center, statistics showing the death rate per capita of gun related deaths versus motor vehicle deaths, Alaska gained the dubious distinction as the state with the highest gun death rate vs motor vehicle death in the country.
The report, the fourth annual report to be released by VPC, showed that Alaska’s death rate by firearm was at 19.59 per 100,000 people, while death by motor vehicle accident was just under 9 per 100,000.
The report covered 2013 and counted as gun deaths, suicide, homicide, and fatal unintentional shootings, while they counted both occupant and pedestrian in their calculation for vehicle deaths.
While the overall deaths by firearms was the highest per capita in the state, the 144 deaths in 2013 in Alaska was dwarfed by the number of deaths in other states.On the study’s list of 17 states and the District of Columbia, only Wyoming and D.C. had fewer deaths by firearm in 2013. Overall, in the country, there were 33,696 firearm deaths that year.
Alaska has the third highest rate of gun ownership in the country with 66.6% of homes in the state owning at least one firearm. The state also has very lax gun laws compared to other states.
According to tracetheguns.org, Alaska exports crime guns at a rate of 33.4 per 100,000 inhabitants. This rate is more than double the national rate. Meanwhile, the import of crime guns into the state is about a quarter that amount.
While education and awareness, as well as changes to vehicle and highway design, have continually reduced vehicle deaths from 1999 to 2013, no such programs exist for firearms. Firearms are one of the last consumer products that are not subject to federal health and safety standards says the report.
The report quoted Dr. David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, who wrote Private Guns, Public Health, where he said, “The time Americans spend using their cars is orders of magnitudes greater than the time spent using their guns. It is probable that per hour of exposure, guns are far more dangerous. Moreover, we have lots of safety regulations concerning the manufacture of motor vehicles; there are virtually no safety regulations for domestic firearms manufacture.”