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Trauma in Transition: Trends in Deaths from Firearm and Motor Vehicle Injuries

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Publication Date: January 1995

Publisher(s): Violence Prevention Research Program

Author(s): Garen J. Wintemute


Special Collection: The Joyce Foundation


Keywords: firearms; suicides; motor vehicles

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


In 1993 there were an estimated 40,230 deaths due to firearm injuries and 40,880 deaths from motor vehicle injuries in the U.S.
This study presents a comparison of long-term trends in deaths from motor vehicle and firearm injuries. The age-adjusted death rate from motor vehicle injuries peaked in 1969 and declined by nearly half by 1993. The death rate from firearm injuries reached its modern high point in 1974. After a downward trend through 1985, it had increased by 24 percent as of 1993 and was at its highest level since 1932.
It finds that the increase in the death rate from firearm injuries has resulted largely from an increase in firearm homicides, which increased by 41 percent between 1984-1993. In 1984, firearm suicides outnumbered firearm homicides by more than 40 percent, a pattern which characterized much of the 20th century.