Projections, Predictions and Guns vs Cars

Welcome to “From the Archives”, where I dig up old posts and see what’s changed in the years since I originally wrote them.

Last week, while researching my post about definitions you should remember while discussing mass shootings, I came across a post from January of 2013 that warranted further investigation. It was my take on a Bloomberg News article that projected that by 2015 automotive deaths would surpass gun deaths. They had showed this chart:

My primary grouse was that they seemed to be extrapolating the 2015 data from the 2008 and 2009 data. I decided to take a look and see how the Bloomberg prediction had turned out.

Interestingly enough, at this point it appears to be a statistical tie. The Violence Policy Center has a chart up through 2014 showing a slight lead for motor vehicle deaths:

The Washington Post OTOH, gave them a tie (rates reported per 100,000 people):

According to this post, the numbers for gun deaths ended up being 33,599 and the car deaths were 33,736. It is interesting to note that Bloomberg underestimated the car deaths by a little less than 2,000 /year, and the gun deaths by about 600/year. So they were wrong in their assumption that motor-vehicle deaths would continue to drop at the same pace they had been, but right in their assumption gun deaths would continue to rise. I’ll give myself half credit on this one.  Of course, we do have one more year to go before we get the 2015 data, so I could still entirely eat crow.

It’s worth noting that the rise in firearm death through 2014 was entirely due to an increase in suicide rates. Homicide rates actually decreased during that time:

Someone remind me to check back in next year to see where we went with this!

One thought on “Projections, Predictions and Guns vs Cars

  1. Increased suicide rate would be a legitimate reason for gun-regulation measures. Those are never the focus of proposed legislation, however, and the measures never hold out the least promise of ameliorating that. What actually makes it to the national discussion is culture war.


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