Firearm-related fatalities exceeded motor vehicle fatalities in the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia) in 2010, the most recent year for which data is available for both products. Firearm-related deaths include homicide, suicide, and unintentional fatal injuries. Gun deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths not only in the region as a whole, but in each of the three jurisdictions that comprise the DMV. In 2010, gun deaths in the DMV totaled 1,512 while motor vehicles deaths totaled 1,280.
The statistics in the DMV offer a stark illustration of a public health emergency that often receives scant attention from policymakers. Firearms remain the only consumer product not regulated by a federal health and safety agency, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has overseen automobile safety since 1966. Nationally, firearm fatalities almost equal motor vehicle deaths despite the fact that roughly three times as many Americans own automobiles as own firearms. The tolerance for such a high level of gun death is even harder to comprehend when the relative utility of the two products is taken into account. Unlike guns, motor vehicles are essential to the functioning of the U.S. economy.