It’s like deja vu all over again. When gun control groups need to gin up fear about lawful gun ownership, there’s not a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistic they won’t throw in the bucket to mislead the American public.
Everytown for Gun Control, the gun control group that’s bought and paid for by antigun billionaire Michael Bloomberg, has its own propaganda press called The Trace. It pitches itself as an independent journalist enterprise, but it’s run by longtime Bloomberg lackey John Feinblatt. He’s been at Bloomberg’s side pushing antigun agendas since Bloomberg’s days as New York City mayor. The Trace recently tossed out a headline that was intended to shock the senses and scare America.
They proclaimed that gun deaths in America topped 45,000 in 2020. Of course, they tied it to the record level of background checks for lawful firearm purchases. That was the extent of the explanation of how they arrived at the figures, which are based on CDC data drawn from the WONDER – or Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research – database.
The Trace reported that 45,222 gun-related deaths were recorded in 2020. It’s a stark number indeed, but it’s a number presented without any explanation by the gun control group.
The figure actually includes all intent injuries, meaning it captured data that were homicides, accidents, and suicides. When filtering the CDC WONDER data to reflect injury intent, being homicide, and injury mechanism, being firearm, that figure is 19,384 deaths, not 45,222, or about 43 percent of what they reported.
Trumpeting over 45,000 deaths in America is meant to scare the uninitiated. There was no mention of the lawlessness that took over much of the country in 2020. Rioting plagued the country in the summer of 2020 at the same time Everytown for Gun Safety was backing calls to defund police.
George Soros-backed district attorneys embraced no-bail and catch-and-release policies that put criminals back on the streets within hours of committing their crimes. Everytown backed these plans in the name of racial justice. They did so without acknowledging that African-Americans lawfully purchased their own firearms at a rate over 58 percent higher in 2020 than it was in 2019, while Hispanic-Americans purchased guns at a 49 percent higher rate and Asian-Americans bought guns at a 43 percent increased rate during the same time period.
Just this week, newly-installed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg boasted of his soft-on-crime approach while New York City is in the grips of criminals. That includes a purported plan to reduce armed robbery to a petit larceny charge, which is a misdemeanor, provided no victims are seriously injured and there’s “no genuine risk of physical harm.” That takes a 25-year sentence to less than a year and a $1,000 fine.
That wasn’t all. The Trace amplified the fear factor by comparing it to deaths caused by vehicles and showing that firearm injury deaths are the 13th leading cause of death, edging out car-related deaths. Nowhere does The Trace call for a ban on cars, but the gun control mouthpiece gladly parrots any line of gun control it finds convenient.
In 2020, firearm injury was the 13th leading cause of death, eclipsing car crashes for the fourth year in a row, and by a larger margin than ever before. @JenniferMascia reports: https://t.co/gcrzSknpau
— The Trace (@teamtrace) January 10, 2022
That even applies to suicides. Suicides are tragic and the firearm industry recognizes this. That’s why the firearm industry teamed up with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to create a program for firearm retailers and ranges to provide resources to intervene before a crisis. That partnership now includes the Department of Veterans Affairs to encourage gun owners to have a “brave conversation.”
Conflating criminal misuse of firearms and the mental health issues of suicides might be politically expedient for Everytown’s The Trace. They reported their shocking 45,222 figure by adding in 24,292 suicides recorded in 2020. However, the two issues are unrelated and treating mental health crises through the lens of gun control doesn’t address the underlying mental health concerns.
When gun control groups lump suicides with deaths caused by criminal misuse of firearms, they deny warnings of mental health experts that say the pandemic lockdowns have had an increasing negative effect on Americans.
Suicide is a mental health issue that isn’t solved by gun control. It’s resolved by levying greater attention and resources to those working to heal from those issues. Treating them as a convenient statistic to advance a political agenda is appalling.
Data without explanation is worse than fuzzy math. It’s the ambient background noise that drowns out coherent thought. Data manipulation, though, is just a blaring megaphone that’s quickly tuned out.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.