We all remember it. It wasn’t that long ago, actually.
The headlines were clear: Guns were the leading cause of death in children.
It’s been a talking point in numerous anti-gun op-eds and articles since then. After all, gun control is “for the children.”
Except, there are notable problems with that study. A layman like myself could see it plain as day. A lot of people did.
Now, John Lott has taken a whack at it, and yeah, there are issues.
As we have previously discussed, a common claim is that firearms are the leading cause of death for “children or adolescents.” That claim is clearly false. Homicide data is used here, but homicides involve both murders and justifiable homicides, and it is hardly obvious why justifiable homicides should be included here. Doing so inflates the total number of firearm related deaths, but put that concern aside.
For those under 18, vehicle deaths are consistently greater than those from firearms. For those under 20, firearm deaths exceed vehicle deaths for 2020 and 2021 when you use the CDC firearm homicide data. When you use the FBI homicide data the vehicle deaths exceed the firearm deaths for 2019 and 2020, and likely 2021, though the FBI data isn’t available for that year. The bottom line is that about 1/3rd of the firearm deaths for those under 20 involve homicide where the victims are 18 and 19 years old. About another 20% of involves homicides for 15, 16, and 17 year olds. These deaths are largely gang related, and even banning guns is unlikely to stop drug gangs from getting a hold of guns to protect their extremely valuable drugs.
Lott also notes that suffocation deaths are higher than gun homicides in the same age category.
The truth of the matter is that the original numbers were likely “cooked” to include as many “children” gun fatalities as possible on the gun side. That includes throwing in legal adults into the mix, calling them children, then pretending nothing was amiss.
As it is, calling a 17-year-old kid a “child” feels more than a little disingenuous, but at least they’re still legally children, so most of us accept it as valid, even as we debate the difference between someone that age and a third grader.
But including adults in the mix isn’t a good-faith disagreement or anything of the type. These are grown-ups in the eyes of the law. They’re able to sign contracts, enlist in the military, own a home, and a number of other things kids simply can’t do.
They’re not kids.
Further, the discrepancy with the numbers–the CDC figures versus the FBI numbers–is a problem that we’re not likely to see resolved. However, let’s also be honest here. Based on the activities of both agencies, neither have shown themselves to be particularly trustworthy.
Still, the CDC’s funding isn’t dependent on there being more crime, so they’re likely more trustworthy in this instance.
Either way, though, the truth is that when most of the fatalities involving guns are legal adults, where the numbers came from isn’t nearly as important as the fact that they dispute the idea that guns are killing our kids more than literally anything else.
Young but legal adults? Maybe. Kids? Not so much.
Then again, the death of inner-city gang-bangers isn’t nearly as moving as the death of sweet, innocent children at the hands of the heartless gun rights folks, now is it?
Especially when, as Lott notes, justifiable homicides are included.
That wouldn’t be as much of an issue to me if it weren’t for the fact that people are using these numbers to justify gun control, but at least some of those “kids” were trying to hurt innocent people when they were shot, thus justifying gun rights as a whole.
But hey, what do you expect from the anti-gun bunch?