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Using statistical sleight-of-hand to push an agenda

Moms Demand Action will push safe storage laws for guns, but drowning data suggests water is more dangerous.
John Moore/Getty Images

An article in yesterday’s Poughkeepsie Journal discussing the number of accidental firearms fatalities among juveniles ages 14 and under offers a statistic that raises questions about why Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America doesn’t devote its energy to something far more threatening than guns: Water.

The Journal noted that, “Nationally, 617 children 14 or under died in unintentional shootings between 2001 and 2010, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). Most of the victims – 513 – were boys.”

While 617 childhood deaths is no laughing matter, one need only break out a pocket calculator to discover the truth about this somewhat misleading statistic. Divide the number of fatalities by ten, which covers the timespan for this figure, and the annual average for accidental firearms deaths in the specific age group is 61.7 youngsters. The firearms community understands that things can be done to improve that, but with anti-gun resistance to such common-sense gun safety programs as the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle project, or firearms safety training as part of the public school curriculum, it’s not an easy job.

However, compared to the national drowning statistics, guns don’t even come close in terms of posing a danger to children. According to Safe Kids, a website maintained by the Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) with funding from the Medical Center Foundation’s Healthy Journey Campaign, “Since 1999, an average of more than 815 children ages 14 and under have died as a result of unintentional drowning each year.”

The website also asserts, “Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 14 and under.”

If one accepts the data presented by the NCICP and the NGMC, more children aged 14 and under die from drowning every year than die from gunshot wounds in a ten-year period.

Such statistical sleight-of-hand was discussed recently by this column here and here, and it will remain an issue so long as gun prohibitionists try to inflate and sensationalize data in order to push their agenda.

The Poughkeepsie newspaper reported that the Moms Demand Action group will push so-called “safe storage” proposals in several states that would hold adults accountable specifically for gun-related mishaps involving children. Many in the gun community have argued for years that there should be no special demonization of firearms when children die from other “household causes” such as ingesting poisons, or dying in fires and from smoke inhalation.

Any childhood death is a tragedy, but playing deceptive numbers games will not prevent a single one of those fatalities. Neither will mandatory storage requirements that amount to another form of unenforceable gun control.

The newspaper article noted that for the past ten years, the National Shooting Sports Foundation – which sponsors the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show that will be held next week in Las Vegas – has operated Project ChildSafe. Under this program, NSSF has distributed more than 36 million gun locks and provided firearms owners with information about gun safes and locking security cabinets, quick-access lock boxes and other safety devices.

In the Evergreen State, there is no sales tax on gun safes.


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