For the first time in more than 60 years, firearms and automobiles are killing Americans at an identical rate, say new mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Washington Post reports. In 2014, the age-adjusted death rate for both firearms (including homicides, suicides and accidental deaths) and motor vehicle events (car crashes, collisions between cars and pedestrians, etc) stood at 10.3 deaths per 100,000 people. The convergence of the trend lines is driven primarily by a sharp drop in the rate of motor vehicle fatalities since 1950. In the late 1960s, there were well over 25 motor vehicle deaths for every 100,000 people in the U.S. Since then, that rate has fallen by more than half.
Over the same period, gun deaths rose, but by a considerably smaller amount. Gun homicide rates have fallen in recent years, but those gains have been offset by rising gun suicide rates. Today, suicides account for roughly two out of every three gun deaths. One way of illustrating the shift is to look at state-level data. In 2005, gun deaths outnumbered vehicle deaths in just two states, Alaska and Maryland, plus the District of Columbia. By 2014, gun deaths were greater in 21 states plus D.C. Medical ailments, such as cancer and heart attacks, kill considerably more people each year than either guns or automobiles.