(CNN) – Firearm deaths have overtaken car crashes are the leading cause of death by trauma in the US, according to a new study.
In 2017, there were 1.44 million years of potential life lost due to firearm deaths, edging out that of motor vehicle crashes (1.37 million years), according to the study published Tuesday in the journal Trauma Surgery and Acute Care Open. And that trend continued in 2018.
Those numbers are based on data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2009 and 2018, the most recent year for which data was available.
Researchers used the CDC standard formula to calculate years of potential life lost by subtracting the age of death from the standard age of 80, to represent the average US life expectancy of 78.7 years and then added the differences.
“The main argument is that the right to bear arms to prevent injury or to defend against aggressors may result in a small number of preventable deaths is a plausible theory, however, the data reveal that the resulting access to firearms has equated to magnitudes of death due to firearm suicides in the same individuals demanding access to firearms,” the researchers wrote.
Millions of years of potential life lost to guns
“Previous studies have shown that firearm ownership, mass shootings, injuries and death are more of a problem in the USA as compared with other developed countries,” the researchers wrote. “The demand for total freedom and the second amendment have resulted in high access to firearms in this country and this is undisputable.”
The group found that California had the strongest gun laws, with a score of 84.5 out of 100, with a low rate of 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 residents, and below the national average of 13.6.