In further evidence of Americans’ waning attention spans, the once annual ritual of gun control activists and their media lackeys manipulating CDC fatal injury data to push a misleading factoid about children and firearms has become semiannual.
This is how it works: Step one, acquire statistics on firearm-related deaths among children ages 0-14. Step two, combine that relatively low number with the far greater number of firearm-related deaths involving juveniles and young adults ages 15-19, or even ages 15-24. Step three, present the resulting data as the shocking number of “children” (ages 0-19 or 0-24) who are subjected to “gun violence” each day/week/month/year. Step four, use the disingenuous statistic to advocate for pre-determined gun control policies.
Back in March, gun controllers dredged up this tactic once again, using CDC’s 2021 fatal injury data. As with overall violent crime, firearm-related violence has been elevated in recent years, alongside the conscious implementation of soft-on-crime criminal justice policies. Sadly, younger people were no exception to this increase.
On March 29, 2023 CNN ran an article with the misleading headline, “Children and teens are more likely to die by guns than anything else.”
As this CNN article discussed “children and teens,” consider the data on children – ages 0-12. For this cohort, firearm-related injuries are not the leading causes of death and are not higher than motor vehicle deaths. The number of motor vehicle deaths in this age group is more than double that of firearms-related deaths. The number of motor vehicle deaths in the 0-14 age group is more than 50-percent higher than firearm-related deaths. Moreover, when examining the cohort ages 0-17, motor vehicle deaths are still higher than firearm-related deaths.
This does shift when examining the cohort ages 15-19. Over 80-percent of the firearm-related deaths that occur in the 0-19 age group happen among the juveniles and young adults ages 15-19. This disparity shouldn’t be surprising. The 15-19 cohort is far more often engaged in the type of street crime that can give rise to firearm-related violence and that many jurisdictions have decided to address in a more lenient manner in recent years. The conflation of this age group with young children is even more absurd when one considers that in the vast majority of jurisdictions those 15 and older can be prosecuted as adults.
Evidently one round of misleading headlines each year isn’t enough.
So, in August, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics published a paper titled, “Trends and Disparities in Firearm Deaths Among Children.” The paper examined the same 2021 CDC fatal injury data referenced above. Despite the headline, the very first line of the paper acknowledged that the item concerns “children and adolescents.” However, the paper goes on to conflate children and adolescents at various points, later including even 18 and 19-year-olds under the definition of “children.”
The results were predictable.
The same day the study was published online, United Press International ran an article titled, “Gun deaths surge, become leading cause of death for U.S. children.” Today published a piece with the headline, “Gun violence is leading cause of death for US children and teens, study finds.”
As all these items are based on the same 2021 CDC fatal injury data, they are misleading in the same manner as the March CNN article. Simply put, firearms are not the leading cause of death among children – even under the most expansive definition of the term (ages 0-17).
The next time you see a shocking headline about children and firearms, keep in mind how those pushing a political agenda have no interest in the truth.