Motor vehicle deaths long have been the leading nonmedical cause of death across the country, but not in Missouri in 2013, says the Kansas City Star. Firearms proved more deadly by a wide margin — 880 to 781. Missouri appears to be a harbinger of things to come. Some experts predict that for the first time in decades, firearms will kill more people nationwide this year than motor vehicles.
Several long-developing trends caused firearm and motor vehicle deaths to converge. One is a slow growth of firearm deaths nationwide over the last decade. Although such deaths remain down about 15 percent from their 1990s peak, the fatalities include an increasing percentage of suicides. By 2010, suicides accounted for about six of every 10 firearm deaths. Motor vehicle deaths have fallen dramatically since peaking at 54,589 in 1972. By 2013, they had fallen 35 percent, to 35,612. The decline follows campaigns by consumers, safety advocates and law enforcement officials to make the driving experience safer. Advocates credit seat belts, padded dashboards, airbags, highway median guard cables and road-edge rumble strips.