The National Safety Council released the 2017 edition of its annual Injury Facts report this week, and it contains welcome news about firearm safety.
The number of fatal firearms accidents dropped to the lowest point ever (since 1903, when the data was first tracked). There were 489 total fatal firearm accidents nationwide – a 17% decrease from 2014. As a percent of the total number of fatal accidents, firearms accident rank very low: just 0.3% of all fatal accidents involved a firearm.
Comparing the odds between the types of fatal accidents can help put these numbers into context, and the National Safety Council puts fatal injury data in this format to make comparisons easier. The odds of a fatal firearms accident are 1 in 6,905. You are more likely to be killed by:
- Poisoning (1 in 96)
- A motor vehicle crash (1 in 114)
- A fall (1 in 127)
- Drowning (1 in 1,188)
- A bicycle crash (1 in 4,486)
What makes the record low number of fatal firearms accidents even more noteworthy is that it came at a time when the number of firearms in the country was skyrocketing. The year 2015 saw the most background checks ever conducted in a single year until that point (the number was surpassed in 2016). More than 23 million NICS checks were conducted in 2015. Background checks don’t have a one-to-one correlation with firearms purchases, so we don’t know for sure how many more guns were bought in 2015 than previous years…. but we do know that the number of American gun owners was on the rise.
PEW Research Center reported a five-point increase in the percentage of American households with a firearm between mid-2015 and mid-2016. Fox News reported on a host of other surveys with similar findings.
So, in 2015 we had more background checks conducted AND more Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights AND a record low number of fatal firearms accidents. The safety efforts of the NRA, our partners and allies supporting the Second Amendment, and, most of all, responsible, law-abiding American firearm owners made the record-setting safety of 2015 possible.