Report: CDC gun injury data ‘unreliable’ yet it is still used

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A report published by FiveThirtyEight.com contained an alarming allegation, that the annual estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the number of people sustaining non-fatal injuries from firearms “may not be trustworthy.

A new report suggests that firearm injury data from the CDC might not be trustworthy. Dave Workman)

Yet gun control proponents in Congress such as Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) want to provide funding to the CDC to conduct “gun violence” research, as noted by WNPR. She declared “gun violence” a public health emergency to justify her funding request.

But the real emergency, if the FiveThirtyEight.com report is accurate, might be with the CDC, itself.

The agency estimated that in 2017, there were “somewhere between 31,000 and 236,000 people…injured by guns.” That’s a pretty wide range allowing for all kinds of conclusions.

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Even Dr. David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, whose name has been linked to gun research in recent years, was quoted in the FiveThirtyEight.com report asserting, “You just can’t use those numbers.”

Congress has not provided funding to the CDC for gun control-related research since the 1990s due to the Dickey Amendment. That was named for Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.), who led the fight to prevent the CDC from using public funds to “advocate or promote gun control,” according to a short history at Wikipedia. Anti-gunners have tried to remove the amendment ever since.

FiveThirtyEight.com reported that it, along with the Michael Bloomberg-supported news organ The Trace, reported “that the rising trend in the number of nonfatal gunshot wounds in the CDC’s estimates was out of step with trends reported by other public health and criminal justice databases, which found flat or declining numbers of these injuries.”

According to The Guardian, the CDC reported that in 2017 there were 14,542 people killed “in firearm homicides.” However, the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2017 shows that there were a total of 15,129 slayings in 2017, of which only 10,982 were gun-related. Even if the CDC and FBI figures are only estimates, that’s quite a disparity.

The CDC reported that in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 39,773 gun-related deaths in the U.S. of those, 23,854 were suicides, 486 were unintentional, 553 were the result of “legal intervention and operations of war,” and 338 were of undetermined nature. Clearly, suicides outpace homicides, which is typical for any given year.

The firearms community has championed suicide prevention efforts over the past few years, with the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association deeply involved in a pilot project in Washington State in cooperation with experts at the University of Washington. The National Shooting Sports Foundation has also been involved in a similar effort with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

But none of this removes concerns raised by the FiveThirtyEight.com report. As noted in the story, the CDC is “the nation’s premier public health agency, (and) its figures are still widely used by researchers, journalists and the general public. That the latest numbers have become even more uncertain suggests that the CDC can’t be counted on to accurately estimate the number of gun injuries in the U.S. right now.”

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