Guns kill more people than cars in Georgia

Celebratory gunfire victim Sergio Martinez. Special

Sergio Martinez died from a gunshot wound on Jan. 1, 2011.

For the fourth consecutive year, guns killed more people than cars in Georgia in 2014, newly compiled data shows.

Georgians first became more likely to die from a gunshot wound than a car crash in 2011, an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found last spring. And in a new study released Monday, a gun-control advocacy group says the trend continued in 2014.

According to the Violence Policy Center, 1,289 people died on Georgia roads in 2014 – 102 fewer than the 1,391 who died from gunshot wounds.

The figures come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Georgia recorded 13.78 gun-related deaths per 100,000 residents, according to the CDC, compared to 12.77 from motor vehicle crashes.

In 2014, gun deaths exceeded traffic fatalities in 21 states and the District of Columbia, the Violence Policy Center says. That reflects a downward trend from 2013, when 29 states and D.C. recorded more deaths from guns than cars, according to last year’s Journal-Constitution analysis.

In 2003, the newspaper found, more people died from shootings than car crashes in just two states and D.C. Go here for a state-by-state analysis of this historic shift in gun deaths.

This change occurred as the federal government mandated safer cars and highways while allowing firearms to remain as lethal and as available as ever. While federal research has made driving safer, Congress has cut funding for most federally sponsored studies of gun violence. Research was so sparse that a scientific panel took 124 pages in 2013 just to outline what needs to be studied.

This is the view from Ervin Turner Sr.'s front porch, where he fired his 9 mm semiautomatic handgun to celebrate the new year on Jan. 1, 2011. He and his stepson, Jesse Foster, thought they were shooting into the ground; a stray bullet traveled across the street and killed neighbor Sergio Martinez.

The view from Ervin Turner’s porch to Sergio Martinez’s house. (Photo by Alan Judd/AJC)

Georgia’s tipping point occurred just after midnight on Jan. 1, 2011, when a Gwinnett County man celebrating the new year repeatedly fired his pistol from his front porch. One bullet flew into the house across the street, where it struck and killed 36-year-old Sergio Martinez.

Ervin Turner and his stepson, Jesse Foster, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Turner served time in prison, and Foster was placed on probation. At their sentencing in 2012, the judge described their crime in a single word: “Pointless.”

 


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