March 20, 2002
The federal government says it lacks funding for much-needed
research about the alarming increase in autism, asthma, diabetes and
other serious childhood conditions. Now we know where scarce research
money goes: to fund gun-control propaganda.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded a
study just released about an event that is extremely rare: firearm
deaths of children aged 5 to 14 years. The Journal of Trauma published
its results in an article entitled "Firearm Availability and
Unintentional Firearm Deaths, Suicide, and Homicide among 5-14 Year
Far fewer children die each year in firearm incidents than from
car accidents, fires, poisoning, suffocation, or drowning. In fact,
the firearm accident rate for children has declined much faster than
any other major type of accident.
The report fails to admit that, during the last ten years of its
study, accidental childhood deaths from firearms fell by more than 50
percent. This decline in firearm accidents occurred during the same
period in which states increasingly allow citizens to carry concealed
In 1999, more than 12,000 Americans died from accidental
poisoning, while only 824 died from firearm accidents, only 88 of whom
were children. Yet the CDC is apparently more interested in stopping
guns than poisons.
The CDC spent its money asking if more children die from firearms
in states that have more firearms. Where is Senator William Proxmire
and his Golden Fleece awards for ridiculous government waste when we
The study found that Alaska has the highest rate of childhood
firearm deaths, followed by Montana and then Idaho. What do they all
have in common? All three are sparsely populated states, featuring
lots of hunting and difficult access to emergency rooms.
The most densely populated states, which include New Jersey, Rhode
Island, Hawaii and Massachusetts, have the lowest rate of childhood
firearm deaths. The top ten states in childhood firearm safety are all
in densely populated areas where no one is far from an emergency room.
But the unremarkable correlation of population density and
emergency response to firearm accident deaths is not what the CDC was
seeking, and so it was completely ignored. The study also manipulated
the scope of the research by eliminating the District of Columbia,
which has the strictest gun control laws in the country combined with
some of the worst violence.
Next, the researchers eliminated youths age 15 and higher, who
flout gun control laws and injure unarmed citizens. Deaths of 15-19
year-olds by firearms are nearly ten times the rate of the younger
group, according to the National Safety Council, and thus far more
This study was initiated during the Clinton Administration, and
its only plausible purpose was to promote gun control and to try to
rebut John R. Lott's brilliant book, "More Guns, Less Crime." The
Clinton Administration hatched this study in order to claim that states
having relatively many guns harm children more than states having
relatively few guns, presumably to be followed by the mantra that we
must ban guns "for the children."
Which of the 50 states have more firearms? Incredibly, the study
simply assumes what it claims to prove: it asserts a state-by-state
level of firearm ownership based on the number of deaths from firearms.
The conclusion of this expensive study is, in effect, that states
with higher numbers of adult deaths from firearms also have higher
numbers of childhood deaths from firearms. Is this what the CDC is
spending its scarce resources on?
Had the researchers simply approached the gun control issue
directly, they would have found that pro-gun states have very low
childhood firearm death rates. New Hampshire, which protects gun
ownership and allows carrying concealed guns, has the fifth lowest
child mortality rate from firearms, and Vermont, one of the most pro-
gun states in the country, has the eleventh lowest rate of childhood
deaths from firearms.
An accompanying editorial in the Journal of Trauma, far from the
headlines, concedes that states with the highest rates of firearm
deaths by children do not have particularly high rates of gun ownership
after all. Its response to this is to demand "future studies" to try
to fit the data to the thesis.
This CDC-funded study follows a pattern of politically biased junk
science published in medical journals on the subject of guns.
Publications that support gun control then run headlines about the
claims without checking the details.
Now that we have a new president, he should tell the CDC to do
some sensible studies about the real health problems children face,
such as potential harm from Ritalin and the many vaccines now mandated.
Congress should also look into whether the CDC has violated the Dickey
Amendment, which prohibits the CDC from spending funds to promote gun