CDC Report Validates NRA Positions On Crime, Gun Safety

Posted on April 13, 2001

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On April 13, 2001, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on trends in firearm-related deaths and injuries between 1993-1998. (see "Surveillance for Fatal and Nonfatal Firearm-Related Injuries -- United States, 1993-1998.")

The report was not released to provide new information to the public about trends in firearm-related deaths. Those statistics have been available for a long time (see CDC`s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System and CDC Wonder ). Co-authored by anti-gun researcher James Mercy, the report was instead another CDC attempt to make a case for increasing the collection of firearm-related injury data anti-gun researchers could use to conduct "studies" reaching preordained conclusions in support of "gun control." (CDC has often used taxpayer moneys to fund such projects, provoking Congress to begin limiting the practice in 1997.) Increasing data collection, the "public health action" called for in the report, would serve anti-gun goals, because the data pertain almost exclusively to improper firearm uses (murders, suicides, and accidents). Defensive firearm uses rarely result in criminals being shot and other positive firearm uses (target shooting, hunting, etc.) are injury-free when properly conducted.

Regardless of CDC`s motive in this instance, its report makes a case against "gun control" and instead validates NRA`s position, namely, that to reduce deaths with firearms, you crack down on criminals and offer voluntary firearm training programs to the public. The report shows that firearm-related deaths decreased 22.4% between 1993-1998, primarily because of a large decrease in deaths due to assault, and it shows that deaths due to accidents and assaults decreased at a much greater rate than those due to suicide.

Year

Assault

Suicide

Accidents

Total

1993

18,839

19,213

1,543

39,595

1998

12,228

17,605

875

30,708

1993-1998

-6,611(-35.1%)

-1,608 (-8.4%)

-668 (-43.3%)

-8,887 (-22.4%)

Violent crime has decreased every year since 1991 and criminologists, sociologists, and law enforcement experts almost unanimously attribute the trend to criminal justice reform in the states and new law enforcement policies in local jurisdictions (both aggressively supported by the NRA), along with the strong economy, low unemployment rate, decline in the "crack" cocaine trade, and the aging of juvenile gang members responsible for drug trade-related violence in the late 1980s and early 1990s. "Gun control" advocates instead credit the Brady Act, but the Act didn`t take effect until 1994 and it never affected states in which most firearm deaths occur. Brady supporters claim that the Act reduced crime by reducing handgun purchases (a public health community goal since 1979), but the number of privately owned firearms increased by 37 million between 1993-1999 (BATF, Crime Gun Trace Reports, 1999, National Report, 11/00), U.S. handgun production peaked in 1993 and 1994 (www.amfire.com), and the number of Right to Carry states rose from 17 to 31 between 1993-1998. Also, firearm-related deaths decreased more among persons not subject to the Act. Through 1998, the Act affected only retail handgun purchases, limited by law to persons age 21 and over. Firearm-related deaths among persons of those ages decreased only 20% between 1993-1998, while those among younger persons decreased 34%.

Firearm accidents have been decreasing for decades. Each year 700,000 people participate in NRA firearm training programs conducted by 46,000 NRA Instructors nationwide. Since 1988, more than 17 million youngsters have participated in NRA`s Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program, conducted by more than 22,000 schools, civic groups, and law enforcement agencies.

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