NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Gun Study Assumes What it Purports To Find

March 21, 2002

A new report funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is about an event that is extremely rare: firearm deaths of children, ages 5 to 14 years. Critics say the study may violate the Dickey Amendment, which prohibits the CDC from spending funds to promote gun control.

  • The report fails to mention that accidental firearms deaths are very rare -- in 1999, more than 12,000 Americans died from accidental poisoning, while only 824 died from firearm accidents, only 88 of whom were children.
  • During the 10 years covered by the study, accidental childhood deaths from firearms fell by more than 50 percent -- much faster than any other major type of accident.

The study found that the states with the highest rates of childhood firearm deaths -- Alaska, Montana and Idaho -- have high estimated gun ownership (or "availability") rates, though they don't rank in the top 10. However, firearm ownership was estimated based on state firearm death rates -- in other words, the study assumes the correlation it is supposed to determine.

Furthermore, the states with the highest death rates are sparsely populated, hunting is common and access to emergency rooms is difficult. The 10 states with the lowest rates are all in densely populated areas where no one is far from an emergency room. The study ignored the correlation of population density and emergency response.

Finally, the scope of the research was manipulated by eliminating youths age 15 and older, and the District of Columbia, which has the strictest gun-control laws in the country combined with some of the worst violence.

Source: Phyllis Schlafly, "Federally funded gun control propaganda," March 20, 2002,; Mathew Miller, Deborah Azrael and David Hemenway (Harvard School of Public Health), "Firearm Availability and Unintentional Firearm Deaths, Suicide, and Homicide among 5-14 Year Olds," Journal of Trauma, February 2002.


Browse more articles on Government Issues