Vara Safety Reach 2 gun lock
Courtesy Vara Safety

By Salam Fatohi

There is no greater loss than that of a child’s life. Unintentional or accidental death can be even more jarring due to the seemingly preventable nature. Certainly, unintentional childhood death is an especially sensitive topic, but a recent study led by Dr. Archie Bleyer, M.D., opens the door for discussion.

His study calls into question the use of biased sources upon which he draws predetermined conclusions.

Dr. Bleyer, a Clinical Research Professor of Radiation Medicine, took an interesting approach to bring this topic to the forefront. The study is highly speculative about firearm ownership as a whole and calls into question the safety steps that firearm owners take at home.

Aside from the obvious bias present in the report and relying upon research from a gun control advocacy group, Everytown For Gun Safety, the most alarming issue with the research is the distorted use of Center For Disease Control and Prevention WISQARS (CDC Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System) data.

Instead of publishing the exact figures reported by the CDC, the authors elected to condense and convert the numbers to push their agenda: blaming the existence of firearms for unintentional deaths of children. Anyone would be alarmed to hear that, “the rate of unintentional firearm deaths in children ages 1 – 4 increased exponentially at an average annual percent of 4.9 between 1999 and 2018.”

The problem with this claim is that the authors are cherry-picking and obfuscating while not making available the full breadth of the data. Using the CDC’s WISQARS system to collect the same data as Dr. Bleyer, NSSF researchers came to a different conclusion.

Intentionally Misleading

The CDC WISQARS reported 431 unintentional deaths of children aged 0 to 4, from 1999 to 2018, noting a “firearm” as the only cause or mechanism of injury. This is a staggering number for anyone, let alone responsible firearm owners who practice and preach safety daily.

Using the same criteria for the previous result but excluding firearms as a factor, NSSF found a total of 51,857 unintentional deaths for the same group of children and timeframe.

This means that firearms were involved in less than one percent – 0.83 percent – of unintentional deaths in children aged 0 to 4 years for the nearly 20-year timespan studied. Dr. Bleyer is not alone in his use of sensational statistics to attempt to muster support for more restrictions on Second Amendment rights and the firearm industry. Studies like this are used to rationalize the false narrative that firearms are a public health crisis.

The very small percentage of unintentional deaths among this age group is due to programs like NSSF’s Project ChildSafe and others that promote responsible gun handling and storage. According to the latest CDC Childhood Injury Report, the leading cause of death for children under one year of age is suffocation. For one-to-four-year olds, the most imminent dangers are transportation-related, drowning, fires and burns, respectively.

Dan Z. for TTAG

Americans do not avoid dangerous things simply because there is risk involved. When there is a risk present, education is the primary avenue pursued to make sure those who own swimming pools or drive cars, for example, are aware of the dangers posed to their children or those visiting. The same approach is applied to safe firearm ownership.

A Successful Strategy

On behalf of the firearm industry, the NSSF is the leader in responsible firearm ownership and education through initiatives like Project ChildSafe®. Our commitment to genuine firearm safety is accomplished through safety education and free firearm safety kits all across the United States.

Project ChildSafe has distributed over 40 million locking devices in partnership with over 15,000 local law enforcement agencies, provided up-to-date firearm safety material and even a Firearm Storage and Safety Assessment Quiz that we encourage everyone to take.

Safety is an ongoing practice that must be habitual for it to be effective. With over 8.4 million new gun owners estimated in 2020, the discussion around firearm safety is paramount. The firearm industry will continue to lead the way by offering Real Solutions® for safer communities.

 

Salam Fatohi is the Manager of Legislative and Policy Research at National Shooting Sports Foundation.

21 COMMENTS

  1. This ‘researcher’s’ conclusion is about as surprising as when Geoff the Goof makes yet another ridiculous, irrelevant comment on TTAG.

  2. I have a large SUV, the only time I carry firearms is to/from the range or to service/buy. (I live in Ca, it is not legal for those without a concealed weapon permit to carry in a vehicle, other than transport). There is no trunk, just a storage compartment/glove box/center console. I transport them in the rear compartment, and do not leave the vehicle unattended. I guess I could buy a storage box and cable it to the seat mounts, but I don’t see a reason for that.

  3. It occurs to me that children struck by rounds intentionally fired by criminal actors would probably count as “unintentional firearm deaths” if they weren’t the intended target. Certainly children killed by the accidental discharge of illegally owned firearms would count. Neither of these categories is likely to be ameliorated by additional laws burdening the law-abiding.

  4. Statistics, as noted before, beg the question of what “is, is”. In this particular case, the stats reported by the gun grabbers is correct and germane. The intent was not to compare causes of death for children 0-4yrs, it was to show a notable increase in firearm related deaths; period.

    Being honest, we must then ask whether the change, or rate of change, over the years is something that needs further investigation into the subject (firearm related deaths). In short, does the change/rate of change inform us of something that needs to be addressed? Is there an indication that an action, any action, can be taken to reduce the number of deaths among children aged 0-4yrs? Will that action be effective? Is the action cost-prohibitive? Are there factors that cannot legitimately be mitigated (is moving from a high rate location to a low rate location required/feasible)?

    If the question is not related solely to the growth/rate of growth of firearm related deaths among children 0-4, then a different question must be posed. Changing the argument post posit to one of general risk factors for deaths among children 0-4 is disingenuous; informative maybe, but disingenuous.

    • For some, “In short, does the change/rate of change inform us of something that needs to be addressed?”, in terms of creating more laws that won’t actually address the “problem”, the answer is always “yes”.

    • While it would have been good for the author of this article to stay on topic, I think that placing the number of firearms deaths in the context of overall deaths’ useful. It would have been informative if the rate of increase of overall deaths had been included to provide a comparison. With regards to the study, it is impossible to have an average annual rate of increase of 4.9% over 20 years and have it also be “increased exponentially”. That statement goes beyond hyperbole and soundly into disingenuous spin.

  5. the most kid that age cannot pull the trigger on a double-action pistol or pull the hammer back on a single action pistol so how in the heck are they going to shot someone unless it is an idiot that leaves his gun cocked and in reach of a child my children by the age of four knew what a pistol was and what it did and not to mess with one

    • A loaded and unattended Glock is easily discharged by a child. Further, it has been shown that when a small child cannot pull the trigger on a double action pistol, the child will use his/her thumbs, which in turn results in the gun being pointed right at said child, and in many cases that child’s death. Small children and guns do not mix. Keep them on your person or lock them up. It is that simple. Accidental shootings from improperly stored firearms, even if small in number, are preventable.

  6. This site has become much less user friendly since the new format was introduced. Can we please go back to the tried and true format?

  7. Just another devious back door tactic used by many before! They’re just depending on there being enough people now dumb enough to take their “facts” as gospel! Surprised at how many alleged doctors fall for the B.S., course we all know having an M.D. or PHD, or some other letters after your name automatically makes you smarter than us common folk!

  8. “For some, “In short, does the change/rate of change inform us of something that needs to be addressed?”, in terms of creating more laws that won’t actually address the “problem”, the answer is always “yes”.”

    Hey….you got this figgered out. (which could be dangerous)

  9. Have done a bit of tedious fooling around with WISQARS myself. Data, smata. There’s significance and statistically significant. Wonder if this ‘researcher’ would want an actuary or industrial engineer fooling around with stats on a Radiology study of his? I just love to tell anti-firearm leaning acquaintances with a pool in their backyard, that it’s 100x more dangerous for their kids than owning a gun. Unless anyone’s got a better more recent figure, that’s my story and sticking to it.

  10. Where I completely understand and agree with the idea that people should never be careless with ‘where’ their guns are, having various types of storage laws put on everyone is nonsense. Parents hiding their pistol in a shoe box on the top shelf of a closet is crazy. Get a safe. Being forced to keep the pistol locked up in a different place in the home from the locked up magazine is just as crazy. Storage laws rarely seem to recognize that there ARE homes where it is JUST a husband/wife or where just ONE person lives there alone.

    Being a gun owner means taking responsibility. It does not matter if it’s children in the home or adults.

    With that said:
    Leaving your AR15 leaning muzzle up against the living room entertainment center for anyone to see is something I consider HIGHLY inappropriate. Particularly when your expecting guests or visitors that you don’t know.

  11. Trampolines and pools are very dangerous to kids. I will never have either. Of my 2 kids, 1 niece and 1 nephew, 3 of them have been injured on a trampoline. Having a pool without a fence and locked gate would raise my homeowners insurance cost. My insurance company does not care that I have firearms.

    If firearms are so dangerous how come the industry that does the most studies and risk and will raise rates when they detect adverse risk does not raise my rates due to my firearms ownership?

    The AMA and anti gun organizations twist studies and statistics to suit their agenda. The insurance industry looks at facts and not feelings. If they felt that firearms ownership raised the risk that someone would get hurt and cost them money they would raise rates for homeowners insurance for firearms owners.

  12. These ‘safety studies’ are just one of many angles anti-gun politicians and bureaucrats use to justify banning all privately-owned firearms in America. The death or serious injury of a child by any means is something that the parents will have to live with for the rest of their lives. It is especially traumatic when the root cause is parental negligence. Far more children are accidently killed by means other than guns, it’s just that a child’s death by a firearm gets more attention that the anti-gun crowd can capitalize on.

  13. Deliberate selective reasoning, writing and arriving at desired conclusions is one reason I do not believe any person, group, or report; simply because most are partisan and rely upon hype, appeals to sympathy, or just plain falsehoods.

  14. “While it would have been good for the author of this article to stay on topic, I think that placing the number of firearms deaths in the context of overall deaths’ useful. ”

    In short, the argument against the study is, “You didn’t compare everything else with the inquiry at hand.” Yet, the study has useful information itself.

    (More discussion follows: TL/DR)

    Useful for what purpose? The article was presented with all the usual trappings of propaganda, and detracted seriously from the context of the statistical inquiry. Comparing one statistic to an array of other statistics is not useful, unless the intent was to make that comparison in the first place.

    My stance was/is that just because we don’t like the nature of the inquiry (restricted solely to an observable [or not] movement in the number of firearm related deaths in an age group from 0-4yrs) does not call the data/result into question. To do so is to essentially side with the gun grabbers in misuse of statistics, claiming it is OK because we are righteous.

    One might make the case that any statistical “study” of firearm related deaths must also compare the study to the overall life risks of every other form of death, but even that is open to attack as being moving the goal posts. Consider, we generally like to make comparisons on as wide a basis as possible. That is, we like to compare death rates among the general population to any smaller aggregation of study. To make a comparison between other causes of deaths for age group 0-4yrs, one must remove all other age groups for all other causes.

    It is not enough to simply say, “Oh, yeah? Well, there are other causes of deaths in that age group!” We are obligated to riposte with a new set of statistics (with just a problematic a data set) that make direct comparison statistically valid. And we are just as obligated to admit that we are changing the entire narrative from the original, to the general.

    And even then, we are on the spot to remove the optional events that can result in death, from the non-optional (to save lives, certain medical procedures must be endured, and carry their own death risks). It is intellectually dishonest to not admit that owning a gun is optional, and must be compared with other optional behavior, not all behaviors in aggregate.

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