Utah is one of 14 states where the number of gun-related deaths is now higher than the number of highway fatalities.
Highway fatalities in Utah – and across the country – have dropped dramatically in the past decade, thanks in part to safer cars and better drunk driving enforcement. For Utah, a report from the Violence Policy Center says there were 277 motor vehicle deaths in 2011, compared to 308 deaths from guns. That includes accidents, homicides and suicides.
Dee Rowland with the Utah Gun Violence Prevention Center believes broader background checks at gun shows and for private firearms sales could help reduce that number.
Rowland tells KUER, “Just as regulations have impacted and reduced the number of motor vehicle accidents, we feel that regulations could impact the violence and the tragedies of deaths by weapons.”
Clark Aposhian with the Utah Shooting Sports Council says expanding background checks would not have an impact on gun deaths – because the large majority of them are suicides.
In an interview with KUER, Aposhian said, “A background check isn’t going to make any difference whatsoever for someone trying to kill themselves. We need to approach that on a mental health standpoint. We need to approach the rest of crime on a, whether it be a cultural or societal issue, standpoint.”
Nationwide, there were about 32-thousand gun related deaths compared to more than 35-thousand highway deaths. The report is based on data from the federal Centers for Disease Control.