Reported by Rikki King and Scott North / Herald Writers
When 20 children died in the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut in December, many people rushed to the Internet to argue about guns. As so often happens, emotions took over. It’s almost an American tradition, debating gun laws. People on both sides toss out stats.
Let’s fact-check one of the big ones: Is it true that more people die from traffic accidents than gun violence?
Not here. As the tables below and the accompanying graphics show, more people in Snohomish County die from gunshot wounds, according to data kept by the county Medical Examiner’s Office.
Four out of five gun deaths reported here since 2007 were ruled suicides and, for a number of reasons, rarely resulted in news reports.
Conversely, nearly every fatal car accident that occurs around here gets some mention. Roughly 30 to 40 people die in the county each year in traffic accidents. On average, about 45 people die from gunshot wounds.
Guns are a significant factor in homicides here. Snohomish County reported 18 homicides in 2012. Of those, 10 involved firearms.
About 4,500 people die in the county every year, the great majority of them from natural causes or accidents. For technical reasons, almost all firearm deaths are classified as homicides or suicides, including fatal accidental shootings.
The most common causes of accidental deaths are falls and fractures and drug and alcohol overdoses, followed by car accidents.
About 100 people fatally overdose here every year. Some of those deaths are suicides, but many are accidents. It’s not always possible to say for sure.
That’s 100 deaths just from drugs and alcohol — more than double those from bullets.
Firearm deaths vs. traffic fatalities
|Year||Firearm deaths||Traffic accident deaths|
|Year||Firearm suicide||Firearm homicide||All firearm deaths|
|Year||Accidental fall||Accidental overdose or poisoning||Traffic accident||All accidental|
Non-accidental violent deaths
|Year||Suicide||Homicide||Total non-accidental violent deaths|