AAP Flawed ‘Study’ on Kids and Gun Laws Gets Headlines

Naroh N1 (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)


By Elizabeth McGuigan

It seems every public health journal is obligated to publish one junk-science article on kids and guns per year. The latest is a “study” published in Pediatrics called “State Gun Laws and Pediatric Firearm-Related Mortality.” It is in the headlines, and it is a mess.

Through a series of deliberately terrible study design choices, the authors conclude that there are fewer children dying from firearm-related causes in states with more gun control laws.

The study falls into the same trap that we have seen so many times before. The authors choose to count as “children,” anyone from 0-21 years old. No one would be surprised to hear that the study finds most of the firearm deaths are due to assaults among 18-21-year-old male African Americans.

As the authors state, “The majority of firearm-related deaths were assault related (61.6%) and occurred among males (87.3%) and 18- to 21-year-old individuals (68.7%).” So why lump toddlers in with adult assault victims? It’s simple. There’s fortunately not much of a story for the rest of children.

Missing Data

So the study design is misleading. Unfortunately, the data are terrible as well. Because the authors use data from the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), certain states are automatically excluded.

In eight states, there were fewer than 10 firearms-related deaths among children. The data for these states are not available, to ensure no one can identify specific individuals in such a small number of fatalities.

However, this means that the study of gun laws vs. fatalities misses the exact states with the lowest number of fatalities. These states are: Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming.

What do most of these states have in common? They do not have the kind of ineffective gun control laws that this study suggests help protect “children.”

The authors essentially cherry-picked the states that support their pre-determined conclusion, and even then, only with methodological gymnastics and a careful glossing over of certain findings. These include the fact that there was no causation found between a law and a rate of mortality. There wasn’t even a statistically significant association between laws such as background checks for ammunition purchases or laws that require firearm identification.

In short, despite the best efforts of the authors, the poorly designed study didn’t even clearly conclude what the resulting headlines proclaim.

The Real Deal

The real story – unintentional firearms deaths are at record lows. Firearms are involved in just 1.2 percent of unintentional fatalities among children 14 years of age and under, and are among the least likely types of unintentional fatalities among children. In the last two decades (1995 – 2015), the number of unintentional firearm-related deaths involving children 14 years of age and under has decreased by 73.5 percent.

There’s no doubt that criminal activities involving young adults are a cause for concern in our communities. But in order to be effective, a solution must address the actual problems.

And as we wrote earlier, criminals do not obey the law. They will not run a background check when they are illegally obtaining a firearm on the street. They will not register their illegal firearm with law enforcement. These policies will not stop crime. We need real solutions for safer communities.


Elizabeth McGuigan is Director of Legislative and Policy Research at the National Shooting Sports Foundation. 


  1. avatar Cruzo1981 says:

    Some POTG should also use the same tactics and publish studies. That would be amazing, like those guys who got studies published about dog humping at dog parks and it was all a sham. They got awards and praise from academia all the while they were trolling hard. It was hilarious!

    1. avatar Groovy Lands says:

      Deliberately fake studies published as a publicity stunt are one thing, but faking or cherrypicking data for studies cross-contaminates future work. Like the ridiculous annual defensive gun use number that is the bedrock of research and arguments. That number is statistically absurd and is impossibly large yet preached as gospel.

      1. avatar million says:

        Kleck revised his estimate down to a million per year based on those multi-state surveys from the CDC in the ’90s.


        Rand Corp looked at DGUs and thought that Kleck’s initial 2.5M was too high but that the NCVS’ 116K was likely too low.

        1. avatar LibertyToad says:

          Obama’s CDC study had numbers similar to Klecks, which was the reason the media was silent on it. Klecks study also passed about 3 dozen peer reviews. No, those DGU numbers are real.

      2. avatar Geoff WWJWD - "What would John Wick do?" PR says:

        ” Like the ridiculous annual defensive gun use number that is the bedrock of research and arguments.”

        Yeah, ‘ridiculous’, and ‘absurd’.

        I, personally, have had 2 of them, and I wasn’t even trying very hard.

        Blow it out your ass, ‘groovy’…

        1. avatar Pg2 says:

          Was one of them against guesty, your other profile identity? Get help. For real.

  2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

    “And as we wrote earlier, criminals do not obey the law. They will not run a background check when they are illegally obtaining a firearm on the street. They will not register their illegal firearm with law enforcement.”

    We can shout this truth from the hilltops as much as we want, but the anti-gunners always counter with their “common sense” reforms and gun control laws. Their approach to gun crime is like going after drunk drivers by lowering the speed limit. The drunkards won’t obey it anyway, and all it does is affect the law-abiding drivers. But the local lawmakers get to point to the shiny new speed limit signs and say they did something.

  3. avatar million says:

    “Recently, 3 state laws were associated with a reduction in overall deaths from firearms: universal background checks for firearm purchases, universal background checks for ammunition purchases, and identification requirement for firearms.”

    That is news to me. The last two studies on CBCs by JHU/Bloomberg and UC Davis/VPRP show no effect on firearm homicides or suicides.

  4. avatar GS650G says:

    I really don’t care what their studies come up with. I’m not forking over guns to anyone based on their studies.

  5. avatar Ralph says:

    “criminals do not obey the law. They will not run a background check”

    So, we need laws requiring criminals to obey the law and to pass a background check. Problem solved.

    Now, let’s work on that cold fusion thing.

    1. avatar Enuf says:

      So what we need here is a new law requiring criminals to obey all previous laws except for those which would led to self-incrimination.

      Yes, that will fix things right up!

    2. avatar GS650G says:

      Paradoxically they won’t be criminals if they obey the law. Then they can sue for discrimination, unemployment, and loss of status.

  6. avatar tdiinva says:

    Since this study includes “Children” between the ages of 18 and 21 does include members of the Armed Forces who die in combat from gunshot wounds? /Sarc

  7. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    Nice looking Pistol…Odd ammo mix.

    Web site states being released Spring 2019. Review coming?

    Apologies, must have missed the review back in June. Got it.

      1. avatar strych9 says:


      2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        i completely missed that review. good one.

        1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          remember lionheart’s (daewoo’s) double action plus or whatever? this could be single action plus. or minus.

  8. avatar Shire-man says:

    You should give up your rights because somebody you’re never met hurt somebody else you’ve never met in some city you’ve never been to.

    Shit, if my mother shot my father in the face in my own home I still wouldn’t give up my rights. Who are so easily manipulated into hating themselves?

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      “Who are so easily manipulated into hating themselves?” The people that take offense to being called racist by the far left, even if they’re not.

  9. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    American Association of Propoganda?

    1. avatar Pg2 says:

      Multiple posters here have cited AAP statements In defense of mandatory vaccinations.

      1. avatar Knute(ken) says:

        And here we go again. Pg2 attempts to hijack the forum into his favorite off topic, but for some reason he (and vlad) are allowed to flaunt the rules that rest of us have to obey.
        I wonder what is so special about these two, that the rules don’t apply to them? It almost seems like the democrats in DC. But surely they don’t run TTAG… do they?

  10. avatar Children Matter says:

    I found this awesome acct to follow!!


  11. avatar Username says:

    “No one would be surprised to hear that the study finds most of the firearm deaths are due to assaults among 18-21-year-old male African Americans.”

    Color me very surprised. I thought most firearm deaths were due to assaults among 35-57-year-old Maltese-Americans.

  12. avatar Pg2 says:

    But the AAP always gets it right…..

    1. avatar ‘liljoe says:

      Hardly ever…

      Having said that, vaccines still save lives.

      So I guess a broken clock is still right twice a day, and the AAP gets that one.

      So Pg2, should we talk about your broken clock?… are you just a tick looking for some tock?

  13. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

    “Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son? Oh, what did you see, my darling young one? I saw a newborn baby with wolves all around it… I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children… And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall…” – Bob Dylan

    When will you hillbillies understand that guns are nothing more than objects of violence and they do not discriminate between color or unfortunately children? When will you understand that they are not needed in a society that respects and treats all equally? Every person crossing the border understands this and that is why they will all support the democratic/socialist agenda. When Kamala raises her right hand in January of 2021 she will put forth the most sweeping agenda in the nation’s history and she will be supported by millions of immigrants, youth, LGBT, and the indigenous and down trodden people who America has forgotten about. The right will shudder at the power of the socialist state and the diehard 2A’s will put down their weapons of violence and flee.

    “Southern Man better keep your head. Don’t forget what the good book said. Southern change gonna come at last. Now your crosses are burning fast. Southern Man.” – Neil Young

    1. avatar Pg2 says:

      Nice post Geoff/Guesty.

  14. avatar Scooter says:

    Great catch of a poorly done study. It’s unfortunate the AAP has enough prestige that their peer-reviewed journal will be taken as gospel by anyone looking for another way to “prove” gun control laws are a public health issue. When the data show no relationship (never mind a cause and effect) an ethical researcher reports the factual data. Begs the question of who really funded the study.

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