A new study commissioned by the American Academy of Pediatrics takes extreme liberties with statistical data to promote a false narrative of significant differences in injuries and deaths caused by firearms among the nation’s youngest residents.
The study entitled “Strict Firearm Legislation Is Associated with Lower Firearm-Related Fatalities among Children and Teens in the United States,” skews data to promote an invalid conclusion suggesting states with more lax gun control laws experience far more deaths and injuries among the nation’s children than states with much stricter gun control measures in place.
Pediatrics applies to anyone age 21 and under. That means a lot of adults between ages 18 and 21 are included in the study recently published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Those adults are the same age as many active-duty military personnel deployed in harm’s way.
Yet, the study uses terminology that suggests young children are eating bullets in large quantities, when no such thing is happening. It just makes it a lot easier to shock the general population when lumping infants and young children in with a study that clearly shows gang-bangers are the primary eaters of bullets among America’s youth.
The study concludes: “Firearm-related injuries are the second leading cause of death among children in the United States, but we found a clear discrepancy in where those deaths happen that corresponds with the strength of state’s firearm legislation.”
“In states with lenient laws, children die at alarmingly greater rates,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Stephanie Chao says. The study shows regions with strong gun-control measures in place report 7.54 injuries from firearms per 100,000 children. Those regions mostly are located in the Northeast and West. The study also shows regions with relatively permissive gun control laws report 8.3 injuries per 100,000 children. Those regions primarily are in the Midwest and South.
The study claims a significant difference among firearm injury rates among children based on the level of gun control measures enacted in different states. “In states with lenient laws, children die at alarmingly greater rates.” That’s a very “alarming” statement clearly designed to elicit fear among reader.
Closer examination shows the alarm is over something that lacks statistical significance. The report admits only a difference of less than one child injured per 100,000. Specifically, it suggests a difference of 0.76 injuries per 100,000 children. That comes out to a 0.0000076 percent difference in injury rates – which is not a statistically significant amount. In other words: Measurement error easily could account for any observed differences, and there are no valid conclusions drawn from the study.
The study’s authors engage in blatant fear mongering by declaring “more children die from firearm-related injuries than from cancer and heart disease combined.” While most likely true, the reason clearly is because most young children simply are not afflicted with cancer and heart disease at such early ages. It often takes time, and abuse of cigarettes and exposure to other substances, for cancer and heart disease to become significant causes of death in the United States.
Yet, the “children” who die most often in fact are not children at all. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows teens ages 13 through 17 account for 85 percent of firearm fatalities among children. The vast majority of those deadly shootings were gang-related, precipitated by another crime and involved illegal drugs, the CDC reports. Those are not the activities in which the nation’s youngest children typically engage. Those are the activities of older teens and young adults, many of whom engage in criminal activity and do not buy firearms in the civilian market. Instead, they steal them or buy illegal firearms on the black market.
The CDC also reports from 1999 through 2016, there were 1,678 children age 5 or under who died from gunshot wounds. While those most certainly are tragic deaths, they also clearly are outliers and not the norm. The number of deaths over an 18-year period comes out to about 93 children age 5 or under dying from firearms each year in the United States. Clearly, firearms deaths are not a significant problem for America’s very young.
When the vast majority of firearm deaths among youth are crime-related, it’s likely the vast majority of firearms used were not lawfully obtained. That means virtually no additional gun control measures would alleviate the deadly violence afflicting mostly older youth.