| Guns |

Arizona had More "Gun Deaths" Than Vehicle Deaths in 2009, Says Anti-Gun Group; Omits Fact That 71 % Were Suicides

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Slate, an online magazine, and the Tucson Weekly recently published articles that claim Arizona's "gun death" rate now exceeds the rate of vehicle deaths.

The articles, spurred by the Newtown shooting, were based on a May report by the anti-gun Violence Policy Center in Washington D.C., which lists Arizona as the No. 2 state in this gruesome comparison.

Neither the VPC nor the two publications mention the word "suicide," (okay, except for a brief mention of "murder-suicide" in the Slate article). Yet suicides are a major factor in the VPC's research, even if no one wants to talk about it.

Using statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the VPC notes that Arizona had 856 "gun deaths" in 2009. Looking at the rate per 100,000 people, "gun deaths" exceeded motor vehicle deaths that year.

But the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control statistics also show that in 2009, Arizona had 605 suicides by firearm.

That's a whopping 71 percent of the total of so-called "gun deaths."

Our humble opinion is that lumping suicides into "gun deaths" as a way of promoting gun control is just crap. Still, we were exceedingly courteous and made no insults when we called the VPC this morning to discuss the matter. But our line of questioning nearly caused a VPC spokesperson to burst a blood vessel.

Our first question, which admittedly contained a touch of smart-assedness, was whether the VPC -- which advocates the banning of handguns -- had included suicides by motor vehicle for the vehicle deaths, since it had included suicides in the gun deaths. After all, if a suicidal person can't get his or hands on a gun, a car running in a garage will do the trick.

The woman, who later refused to reveal her name, said she had no idea whether motor-vehicle suicides were included in the statistics. She said we were "nit-picking," so we asked our main question, which was whether or not it was fair to include the suicides in the total of "gun deaths."

She grew somewhat hysterical, announcing that we should do our own analysis and that she didn't have time to argue. We pressed on, asking if the VPC's analysis assumes that without a gun, the "gun-death" victim would not have committed suicide. "Yes! That is my assertion!" the woman yelled.

She proceeded to talk over our responses and raved that the main point of the analysis should be "shocking" to people in Arizona.


"You are just kind of ridiculous," she spewed before hanging up.

Maybe. But no more ridiculous than comparing Arizona suicides to motor-vehicle deaths.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.