A new advertising campaign by the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence claims that every day in the United States eight “kids” die or are injured by unintentional gunshot wounds. There’s just one problem: it isn’t true.
According to the CDC statistics they cite, the actual number of children (0-17) unintentionally killed or injured by gunshot wounds every day is closer to four. While still a tragically high number, it’s nowhere near the statistic they repeat here, here, here, and here.
To reach the eight-children-per-day threshold, 18 and 19-year-old adults must also be included in the data set. In that case, the number is just shy of eight per day.
We contacted the Brady Campaign via email, and they admitted to using the 0-19 range. When we asked why they included adults in their ad about “kids,” they said they used that age range because 18 and 19-year-olds still have access to their parents’ homes.
“We chose to include 18 and 19 year olds in our statistic because the majority of them either still live with their parents or have access to their parents home,” said Kyleanne Hunter, VP of programs at the Brady Center and co-founder of Vets for Gun Reform. “They may legally be able to purchase a firearm from a store, but if they have access to an unlocked and loaded gun in their parents’ home there’s a greater risk of unintentional injury.”
The data comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WISQARS reporting system, which includes categories for fatal and non-fatal injury reports. The Brady Campaign calculated their stat by averaging the data from 2011-2015 for non-fatal gun injuries and 2012-2016 for fatal gun injuries.
The reporting system is easy to use. In our analysis, we filtered the data by intent or manner of injury (unintentional), cause or mechanism of injury (firearm), years reported (2011-2015 non-fatal, 2012-2016 fatal), and age range (>1-17). We’ve posted screen shots below.
If those numbers are added together and divided by 5 (per year) and 365 (per day), the resulting number is 4.44 children unintentionally killed or injured by a firearm per day.
If the data set is expanded to include 18 and 19-year-olds, the number jumps to 7.83.
Conversely, if the data set is restricted to children of the age represented in the ad (0-10), the number drops precipitously. In that age range, 1.003 children are unintentionally injured or killed per day with a firearm. For perspective, about 1.3 children (0-10) per day unintentionally drowned over that same time period.
Brady spokespeople told NBC News that this campaign is designed to find common ground with gun owners.
“In the gun violence conversation, gun owners were largely missing,” Hunter said. “This is completely outside the realm of politics. It’s not red state, blue state — it’s families who want to do what’s best to protect the most vulnerable.”
Gun owners agree that firearms should be stored safely, and even though the Brady Campaign uses misleading stats, the true numbers are still tragic. But pro-gun organizations like the National Shooting Sports Foundation have been promoting safe gun storage for decades. Since 1999, NSSF’s Project Childsafe has worked to encourage and empower gun owners to store firearms securely, and their efforts have succeeded: according to the CDC, fatal firearm accidents have declined 24 percent between 2006 and 2015.
If organizations like the Brady Campaign really want to reach across the aisle, they’ll partner with organizations like the NSSF rather than using trumped-up statistics to mislead the public.
We aren’t holding our breath.