The False Reporting of Anti-Gun Media

The NRA reveals how news outlets use studies with conflated statistics to report artificially high firearm fatality rates.
The NRA reveals how news outlets use studies with conflated statistics to report artificially high firearm fatality rates. photo from nra-ila.orgweb photo

You might see some new numbers in anti-gun stories from various media outlets that say something to the effect of "16 children are hospitalized each day for firearms injuries." Here's a little information from the NRA as to why that numbers just isn't right.

This post from NRA-ILA says CNN has run the statistic with the headline, "16 Children Hospitalized With Gunshot Wounds Each Day, Study Says." WebMD and CBS's Philadelphia affiliate have run similar headlines.

The post says the number comes from an abstract titled "Pediatric Hospitalizations due to Firearm Injuries in the U.S. in 2012," and based on data collected by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Kids' Inpatient Database (KID), which tracks pediatric hospitalizations.

The story says the number in the abstract was created by taking statistics on firearms injuries among children ages 0-14 and combining those relatively low figures with the greater number of firearms injuries involving juveniles and young adults ages 15-19. The number was then presented as a "shocking" number of "children."

“Juveniles and young adults ages 15-19 comprised an overwhelming 83.6 percent of the 'children' hospitalized with firearm injuries in 2012. Moreover, two thirds of the injuries sustained by the individuals in this age group were the result of an assault.

The abstract’s author, Alyssa H. Silver, has stated in a press release, "Our findings add urgency to the need for preventive public health measures to reduce gun injuries in children,” adding that the research “highlights the need for improved gun safety and storage practices."

There is a huge difference between small children who accidentally harm themselves because of poor education combined with finding a loaded, unsecured firearm—and a 19-year-old man who is injured while committing a crime with a gun.

“Further, the abstract fails to put the unintentional firearms injuries Silver laments into the proper context. To their credit, CNN’s article made clear that the number of firearm injuries observed by the researchers for 2012 was roughly 20 percent lower than earlier research that used KID data from 2009. However, the article portrays Silver as dismissive of this decrease, with the researcher telling the news outlet ‘I think most people would agree one child being shot is too many.’”

Most people would agree that one child dying senselessly in a car accident is too many, but unfortunately, we live in a world where more than 9,000 children ages 12 and younger are killed on the road each year.

The story says that Center for Disease Control data shows that fatal firearms injuries among children have been falling for decades, while the number of privately owned firearms has increased.

“CDC data shows that in 2015, the total number and rate of unintentional firearms deaths among those ages 0-14 were tied for the lowest observed since 1981 (the earliest year for which such data is available in CDC’s WISQARS database). The rate of unintentional firearms deaths among those ages 0-14 in 2015 was less than a third of what it was in 1995, and less than a sixth of what it was in 1981. In 2015, the CDC recorded 48 unintentional firearm deaths among those ages 0-14. This a tragedy to be certain, but it is an average of .13 such deaths per day. With an estimated population of 61 million between the ages of 0-14, the likelihood of a child dying from an unintentional firearm injury is less than 1 in a million.

“Conflating firearms injuries among actual children with those suffered by juveniles and young adults for political gain or notoriety has been a staple of gun control politics for over a quarter-century.”