Gun Control by the Numbers

Again today we can hear the president speaking about the need for gun control legislation. This time, as has been the case since Sandy Hook, it is the school shootings that have got him riled up. However, I imagine the his comments would have been similar had it been a shooting by a child playing with a gun found in a home, or a hunting accident. We can postulate endlessly about WHY the president is anti-gun, but I’d like to focus for a minute on the facts. While doing some research for a past post I stumbled on to a great resource. THe CDC, which is based in Atlanta 😉 offers a publicly searchable database of reported cases of injury and death in the US. As with all statistics, the data can be spun in a number of ways. So I sat down with a statistician, to see where the president should really place the blame.

Data is available for the years prior to 2010, so I decided to go back to 2001. The database allows you to search all reports of injury or death that were “firearm” related, (as opposed to “poisoning”, “vehicle related” etc.) I pulled the data specifically for children under the age of 14 because so much of the recent gun control discussions have been based on school shootings. The arguments, I’ve noticed, often vacillate between violent and nonviolent acts. For example, I child finding a gun in a home and accidentally shooting their sibling is “nonviolent” while, I think we can all agree, Sandy Hook was a “violent” incident. Certain anti-gun folks I’ve previously covered, might consider these issues one and the same, but the professional with whom I worked, felt the distinction must be made. Interestingly, the CDC also categorizes the data into separate groups.

I found that from 2001-2010 violent acts on children ages 0-14, which include a firearm, whether fatal or not, have stayed very steady AND very low. In fact, when separated, the number of violent deaths has been dropping slightly. Violent acts with a firearm, killed 0.00056% of 0-14 year olds in 2001, but by 2010 that number had dropped to 0.00049%, even with an increase in that age group’s population over the same period of time.

Just for argument sake, I wanted to look at the firearms accidents that were reported, to see if guns were really dangerous by nature. When looking at “unintended” firearms injuries and deaths, the CDC’s number are exceptionally clear. Violent acts cause firearms incidents. Fatalities are rarely caused by firearms accidents, but even when these numbers were factored in, a firearm is two times more likely to be used violently than to be part of an unintended incident. More than anything, these statistics tell me that it is the violence causing the problems for children, not the guns. So Mr. President, how about a little violence control?


  1. Isn’t that what he is trying to accomplish, violence control? Their thinking is this: get rid of the tool that is used to carry out the violence and the issue will go away. This is what all Anti-2nd, Anti-Firearm, Anti-Self Defense, Anti-NRA followers seem to believe. I did some research yesterday that pointed out an interesting fact, from a sour most would consider reliable: PEW Research – May 2013: “Despite the attention to gun violence in recent months, most Americans are unaware that gun crime is markedly lower than it was two decades ago. A new Pew Research Center survey (March 14-17) found that 56% of Americans believe the number of crimes involving a gun is higher than it was 20 years ago; only 12% say it is lower and 26% say it stayed the same.” The TRUTH needs to be broadcast louder than the Fallacies.

  2. The sad part is the stats count “child finds ‘illegal gun’ hidden in mom’s house without her knowledge by criminal boyfriend” the same as “lawful gun owner fails to properly secure firearm and educate child” and “tragic hunting accident.”

    Only the latter two can realistically be addressed, and then only in practice by education.

    It’s a tiny, albeit tragic, number but like most firearm injuries the problem is inflated by crime-related persons who are impervious to effect by law and education.

  3. By their justification, all men should be castrated at birth and relieved of their manhood at birth because that “weapon” is used in so many sexual assaults.

  4. Gabby,
    If you want to see a masterful use of the CDC’s databases, you really need to spend some time at Kevin’s _The Smallest Minority_ blog. He appears to be semi-retired from blogging, but he has posted some _epoc_ takedowns of the anti-2A community’s use of statistics from the CDC database and other sources as well.

  5. Is the media to be blamed, or are the people to be blamed for not reading enough? I believe many of us read “Headlines” and do not peruse the entire article; after all, there is so much information out there today, in record time from all over the world. From the smallest town to the most remote place and everything else on the map, we hear stories like never before. We share a headline, it gets passed on, embellished and next thing you know, dozens of people injured are dozens dead and . . . well you get the picture. Once the story permeates the minds of some, they run with it and like running with scissors, it can prove to be dangerous in many ways. The way I see it, the task at hand for those of us who enjoy the Freedoms we have, who support our constitutional rights; our job is to make the truth known. It isn’t to make them like or want firearms, it’s to make them understand that we are much safer today, than we were 20+ years ago; that the increase in ownership, sales, training and states allowing cc, has seen a decrease in deaths by these life saving tools.

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