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Not "12 Children Per Day": Handgun Control, Inc. Misled Senate Judiciary Committee

Thursday, October 23, 2003

On January 19, 2001, during Senate confirmation hearings for Attorney General nominee Sen. John Ashcroft, Michael Barnes, the president of Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI, now Brady Campaign) grossly exaggerated the number of children who are killed with firearms each year. Mr. Barnes was assisted in his deception by a perennial anti-gun lobby water carrier, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). Their exchange went as follows:

Kennedy: Mr. Barnes, as I understand, there are 12 children that die from gun accidents every single day. Is that your understanding?

Barnes: Well, Senator, thank goodness it`s a little better now. Thank goodness, it`s just under 11 children a day in the United States dying from gun violence.

Other "gun control" supporters have resorted to the same deception. Then-President Bill Clinton tried to build public support for so-called "Triggerlock" and "smart" gun laws by claiming that 13 children are killed with guns every day. (NBC "Today Show," 3/2/00) Hillary Clinton said, "Every day in America we lose 13 precious children to gun-related violence." ("Remarks by the President and the First Lady on Gun Control Legislation," 4/27/99) HCI/Brady Campaign Chair Sarah Brady claimed the figure was 14 per day. (3/99). The HELP Network recently claimed the figure at nine per day. (Handgun Epidemic Lowering Plan, Help Network News, "Firearm Injury and Fatality Among Children and Adolescents.") Sometimes the figures are expressed as "5,000 per year" or "one every 90 seconds."

Anti-gunners produce their phony figures by adding the relatively small (and declining) number of firearm-related deaths among children to the much larger number of deaths among juveniles and young adults under the age of 20, and dishonestly calling the total "children." Sometimes, they have counted anyone under the age of 24 as a "child" to get an even higher number of deaths. The following table shows the correct figures for each age group.

Classification of firearm-related fatality

Fatalities among children (ages 0-14)

Fatalities among juveniles & young adults (ages 15-19)

Fatalities among all persons ages 0-19

Assault

227

1,549

1,776

Suicide

110

897

1,007

Accident

86

107

193

Unexplained

10

26

36

Total

433

2,579

3,012

Average daily number

1.2

7.1

8.3

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, 2000, the most recent year of complete data available.

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