Update, Firearms Fatalities: Accident Rates in the USA 94% Reduction 1933 – 2017

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Update, Firearms Fatalities: Accident Rates in the USA 94% Reduction 1933 – 2017

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- This article is an updated version of the article published in January of 2017. Since then, the CDC corrected the number of fatal firearm accidents for 2014, the error being found and pointed out by Dr. John Lott.

The reduction of fatal firearms accidents is one of the great, unnoticed success stories of the last 85 years. The rate of unintended firearm fatalities has been reduced by 94% since 1933.

It is not simple to determine the rate of fatal firearm accidents in the United States over the long term.  In the chart above, three sources were used. The first precise numbers were collected in 1933.

Rates and numbers from 1933-1987 are available from Kleck, Point Blank Page 306 Table 7.1.

The numbers for 1981-2000 were found in An Analysis of Firearm-Related Accidents in the United States(pdf). Rates were calculated using Census figures.

From 1999-2017 numbers were available in WISQARS, population for per capital rates was taken from U.S. Census figures.

The reduction of fatal firearms accidents is one of the great, unnoticed success stories of the last 85 years. The rate of unintended firearm fatalities has been reduced by 94% since 1933.
The reduction of fatal firearms accidents is one of the great, unnoticed success stories of the last 85 years. The rate of unintended firearm fatalities has been reduced by 94% since 1933.

For the overlap cases, the later source was used.  The overlap from 1981 to 1987 only had one anomaly. In 1982, Kleck listed 1757 accidental firearm fatalities; the Analysis of Firearm-Related Accidents listed 1756.  The 1999 and 2000 numbers for the Analysis and WISQARS numbers were the same.

The 1967 data point stands out as slightly bucking the long term trend of lower and lower fatal firearm accident rates.  Curiously, it was the year before the Gun Control Act of 1968 went into effect. The slight uptick may have aided in passage of the law.

The numbers are sparse in the early years. Before 1933 the numbers were estimated. There are gaps in the data. The first precise number is from 1933, then 1935, 1940, 1945, 1950, 1955, 1960, and 1965.  After 1965 the data is available for each year.

Between 1945, (the earliest figure available for per capita firearms, Kleck) to 2017 ( the latest figure, using BATFE numbers and Kleck's methodology), the number of per capita firearms has risen from .35 to 1.28. There are more than 3.6 times as many firearms per person in the United States today, than there were in 1945.

During the same period, the per capita rate of fatal firearm accidents has declined from 1.84 per 100,000 to .15 per 100,000, over a 91% drop.  Using the earliest number, form 1933, the drop has been 94%.

In comparison, fatal vehicular accident rates have dropped from 23.687 per 100,000 in 1933 to 11.40 per 100,000 in 2017, or a drop of 52%. That is a substantial drop, but not as impressive as the drop in fatal firearm accidents.

We know the number of miles driven has increased significantly; we do not have similar figures for the amount of ammunition consumed.

In 2014, the CDC record shows a coding error. The number was stated as 586, but John Lott, who detected the error and informed the CDC, said the number should be no more than 486. The actual number corrected by the CDC, has been determined to be 461. That is the lowest number and the lowest rate on record for the United States. The rate is .14 per 100,000 population.

The rate of fatal firearms accidents in 2015, 2016 and 2017 was flat at .15 per 100,000.

For those who wish the individual numbers by year, to create your own graphics, the numbers for all three sources may be found at the link below.

Data for Rate of Fatal Firearm Accidents.

There is considerable misinformation about how many fatal firearms accidents occur per year, especially for children. For children (less than 18 years old), it is a very small number, less than 96 per year.


About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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    linkman
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    linkman

    The brief description of this article on the Ammoland home page says “From 1933 to 1917 unintentional deaths from firearms or the fatal gun accident rate, fell by 94%.”

    Can that be corrected?

    Bill
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    Bill

    Good work! Let’s spread this info!

    Gdubb
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    Gdubb

    “We choose truth over facts” – Sleepy Joe Biden. This was not another speaking blunder. The libtards do not care and never will, along with their deplorable mainstream media arm, who would never, EVER report factual statistics such as this to the public. Until that changes, the communists will control the minds of millions of low-IQ Americans, who together will continue on their endless journey to destroy our country. Everyday, I ask myself how this could be happening. I’m still struggling to find an answer.

    Truth
    Member
    Truth

    When dealing with communists it is important o know they ALWAYS lie and sadly they play on the emotions rather than facts to whip their target population into a frenzy. We are in a war of Facts v emotions; a war between Good and Evil. We must win at all costs or end up like every other country that was sold the bill of goods known as totalitarianism.

    Darkman
    Member
    Darkman

    These number while true. Mean absolutely nothing when OUR opponents rely on the ability to effect their Anti 2A agenda. By manipulating the emotions of their supporters. They understand it is much easier to drive their agenda with the use of emotions rather than facts. Facts can be disputed or misrepresented. I’m not saying you are doing that here. On the other hand emotions go to the core of peoples beliefs and are much harder to change. Regardless if they are based on truth or reality. That is why the battle for 2A Rights is and will continue to be… Read more »