Newsweek Gets it Wrong: Guns are Not a Major Cause of Child Deaths in the U.S.

Published on May 26, 2017  |  By 2ANews.us 
In Firearm Research & Statistics

(Image: Kali9 / Getty Images)

An article published by Newsweek on Thursday claims guns are a major cause of child deaths. A closer review of the data, however, exposes the truth.

In the article, Newsweek contributor Michele Gorman correctly points out that the majority of child deaths in the U.S. are the result of “unintentional or accidental injuries”. However, Gorman immediately leaps from that broad statement to “Firearms are common in U.S. households with children”, and then proceeds to blame firearms for a large portion of those “unintentional or accidental injuries”.

Firearms are NOT responsible for the majority of child deaths

The facts, however, do not support Gorman’s claims. While it is true that the majority of child deaths in the U.S. are the result of “unintentional or accidental injuries”, firearms are NOT the leading, nor even a large cause of those deaths. Rather, firearms account for such a small portion of child deaths as to make them statistically insignificant.


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Children are far more likely to die from motor vehicle accidents, drowning, fire, suffocation, and pedestrian accidents, than by firearms

According to Real Clear Policy (RCPC), an organization that curates articles and research for think tanks, associations, and foundations, at least half of accidental child firearm deaths are misclassified in the statistics cited by Newsweek. Their review of the data finds that children are far more likely to die from motor vehicle accidents, drowning, fire, suffocation, and pedestrian accidents, than by firearms.

RCPC’s findings are supported by official data published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). According to the CDC, about 5 in every 100,000 children ages 1 to 14 die from accidental injuries every year. However, firearms account for a mere 2.2% of those 5 deaths. Put another way, only 0.11  in every 100,000 children die from gun accidents every year.


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“The simple fact is that when it comes to accidents that kill children, the heart of the problem lies in cars, water, and fires … Statistically speaking, the issue of kids who die in gun accidents has received far more attention than it should.”  -Real Clear Policy findings

In a country in which approximately 40 percent of households have guns, totaling more than 300 million guns, the number of children who die by those guns is staggeringly small. While any child’s death is a tragedy,  the CPCP found that child deaths by firearms are a rare event. They conclude, “The simple fact is that when it comes to accidents that kill children, the heart of the problem lies in cars, water, and fires…Statistically speaking, the issue of kids who die in gun accidents has received far more attention than it should.”

Children are 100 times more likely to die in a backyard swimming pool than by a firearm

In 2001, the Chicago Sun-Times published an op-ed piece by Steven D. Levitt, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and a research associate of the American Bar Foundation. Levitt found that children are 100 times more likely to die in a backyard swimming pool than by a firearm, a finding supported by the CDC data cited above.

Editors note: Perhaps Ms. Gorman would do better writing about something that contributes to far more child deaths in the U.S.; such as the absence of pool safety fencing in the majority of households with swimming pools.

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