Deaths by Firearms in comparison to Deaths by Motor Vehicles

A comparison of deaths caused by firearms to deaths caused by cars and motorbikes in Australia during 2006 (most recent year available). All tables including ICD codes for cause of death.

This first table provides a number that is deliberately way too high. Essentially I made three assumptions (all wrong) that raised the numbers as high as I could without producing numbers that are blatantly fraudulent. (Incredibly stupid, but not fraudulent) These three assumptions are:

  1. That all homicides with firearms are committed with legally licensed firearms. Actual numbers are around 10%, though of course some percentage of the none licensed firearms would have originally been stolen.
  2. That everyone that commits suicide with a firearm would, if they didn't have access to a firearm, simple give up on the idea of suicide. Given that the majority of people who commit suicide just want to die, and aren't overly concerned with the method, this is simply retarded.
  3. This table also radically exaggerates the number of accidental deaths caused by firearms, because the statistics I used did not specifically list accidental deaths by firearms, but instead grouped them together with several other types of accidental deaths. Historical data suggests that actual numbers where probably around a sixth of the value show here.

Result: 13.28 firearm deaths per 100,000 registered firearms. This number is well and truly excessive, but is listed here for comparison purposes.

Firearm Deaths in Australia 2006, with ICD codes Version 1
Assault Suicide Accidental Total
X94 X95 X93 or Not Recorded1 X73 X74 X72 Est2 W20-W49 minus W26 3  
11 10 20 125 20 22 124 332
Number of Legally owned firearms 4   Firearm Deaths per 100,000 firearms
2,500,000   13.28
Notes
1. "X93 or Not Recorded" is included because my primary resource for this table did not include all homicides, and also didn't specifically state the number of homicides for pistols. The Australian Institute of Criminology's data put firearms homicides is approximately 40.
2. My primary source again did not include the values for pistol deaths. I estimated this at 22 based on the assumption that they would not have made the total firearm suicide rate higher than for 2004 which had a noticeably higher overall suicide rate: 2,098 vs. 1,799.
3. My primary source listed all accidental deaths caused by "Exposure to inanimate mechanical forces (W20-W49)" as a single category with only one sub-category: "Contact with knife, sword or dagger (W26)".
4. This approximate figure is taken from The Australian Parliamentary Library's Firearms in Australia: a guide to electronic resources

The numbers provided in this second table are possibly low. It corrects the three broken assumptions from the first table, but it may perhaps have gone to far the other way. Firstly I don't take into account murders committed with stolen firearms, and secondly I assume here that all suicides committed with firearms would still be successful by other means.

Result: 1.16 firearm deaths per 100,000 registered firearms. While a reasoned argument could be made for the results in this table, I will, for the sake of argument, assume that this value is too low.

Firearm Deaths in Australia 2006, with ICD codes Version 2
Assault Suicide Accidental Total
X94 X95 X93 or Not Recorded X73 X74 X72 Est W20-W49 minus W26  
1.1 1 2 0 0 0 25 29.1
Number of Legally owned firearms   Firearm Deaths per 100,000 firearms
2,500,000   1.16

The numbers in this third table correct the faults listed for the second table, by assuming that 75% of all murders are committed with either a legally licensed firearm or a stolen firearm, and that 20% of people who commit suicide with a firearm would simply give up or fail if they didn't have access to a firearm.

Result: 3.57 firearm deaths per 100,000 registered firearms. I tend to think this is a little higher than the actual numbers, but we'll pretend it's accurate for the comparison with motor vehicles.

Firearm Deaths in Australia 2006, with ICD codes Version 3
Assault Suicide Accidental Total
X94 X95 X93 or Not Recorded X73 X74 X72 Est W20-W49 minus W26  
8.25 7.5 15 25 4 4.4 25 89.15
Number of Legally owned firearms   Firearm Deaths per 100,000 firearms
2,500,000   3.57

Here we show deaths by motor vehicle. There's really not much to say about this one except the results: 10.64 motor vehicle deaths per 100,000 registered motor vehicles, and 23.45 motorbike deaths per 100,000 registered motorbikes.

Motor vehicle Deaths in Australia 2006, with ICD codes
Pedestrians Motorcyclists Occupant of Car Occupant of Pickup or Van Total
V03 V23 V40-V49 V50-V59  
168 87 811 48 1114
Number of registered motor vehicles Deaths per 100,000
Cars Motorbikes Total Cars & Motorbikes Motorbikes Only
10,101,441 370,982 10,472,423 10.64 23.45

The results are in. Motorbikes and cars combined are nearly three times as dangerous firearms (as measured by deaths per 100,000 register vehicles/firearms). While motorbikes alone are over six times as likely to kill someone as firearms. So the next time someone suggests banning firearms, ask them what they think about banning motorbikes.

Date: 2008-12-20 23:03:53, 9 years and 30 days ago

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