Firearm Accident Fatalities at an All-Time Low

Posted on December 22, 2011

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Data recently released by the National Center for Health Statistics shows that in 2008, the number and per capita rate of firearm accident deaths fell to an all-time low. There were 592 firearm accident deaths (0.19 such accidents per 100,000 population) in 2008, as compared to 613 accidents (.20 per 100,000) in 2007. In 2008, the chance of a child dying in a firearm accident was roughly one in a million.

Firearm accidents accounted for 0.5% of all accidental deaths; well below the percentages accounted for by motor vehicle accidents, falls, fires, poisonings, and several other more common types of mishaps.

Firearm suicides rose in 2008 because total suicides rose, but the percentage of suicides accounted for by those misusing firearms remained steady, at just barely over half. This is down from about 60% during the 1980s and early 1990s. The firearm suicide rate remained at just under 6 per 100,000, as it has been every year from 1999 forward.  Contrary to claims made recently by some gun control advocates, firearm suicides among children are extremely uncommon, and in 2008, fell to an all-time low.

Firearm homicides (including self-defense, but excluding lawful shootings by police) declined in 2008. More recent data reported by the FBI, shows that criminal homicides declined in 2008, again in 2009, and again in 2010, to a 47-year low.

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