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The Real Side | Commentary by Joe Messina
| Monday, Feb 3, 2014

joemessinamugI stated in  a recent Facebook post that I was going to deal with the phony report, “Young Guns: A Diane Sawyer Special,” that ABC News was doing on its Sunday show. Someone responded: “I hope you’re not going to spin this the way I think you’re going to.” Me? Spin something?

Why accuse me of spin before I even get there? And why on earth would I question ABC News and Diane Sawyer? I’m guessing the person leans left and feels ABC News is “the” definitive news source, or at least one of the many in the mainstream media.

So, am I going to spin it? Yes. I’m going to spin it back toward the truth of the matter. The “Young Guns” special makes many “factual” statements. Let’s check them out:

1.7 million –  The number of kids under age 18 who lived in homes with a loaded and unlocked firearm in 2002 (per CDC). Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Considering there are more than 220 million registered guns in the country and accounting for unregistered guns, I would estimate there are closer to 300 million guns in homes across America. 1.7 million is approximately one-half of 1 percent. Insignificant by comparison.

31 – The percentage of U.S. households with at least one child and a gun in the home in 2012 (General Social Survey). OK, less than one-third of American homes have both a child and at least one gun. Although we hear about gun violence more often now, it is actually on the decrease.

The next few stats were somewhat confusing. The “Young Guns” report lumps both kids and youth together, whereas the CDC definitions are different:

1,337 – The number of American kids under age 18 who died from gunshot wounds in 2010. This is trending down from 1,490 in 2005 and 1,544 in 2000 (CDC).

7,391 – The number of American kids and teens under age 20 who were hospitalized from firearm injuries in 2009. That means on average, a child or teen is shot almost every hour (Yale School of Medicine).

98 – The number of American kids under age 18 who died from accidental shootings in 2010. This is trending down from 150 deaths in 2000 and 417 deaths in 1990 (CDC).

85 – Roughly the percentage of accidental shootings of children where the shooter was also a child in 2003-2006 (Catherine Barber, MPA, Harvard School of Public Health).

80 – The percentage of accidental shooting victims who were boys in 2010 (CDC).

Without spinning anything, let’s break these out. Let me first say, anything we can reasonably do to protect our children should be done. Any loss of life due to negligence from someone with respect to kids is almost unforgivable.

Among the many definitions of “accidental gunshot wounds” listed by the CDC are:

* Celebratory firing that was not intended to frighten, control or harm anyone;

* A person shoots himself when using a gun to frighten, control or harm another person;

* A person mistakenly thinks a gun is unloaded and shoots himself or another person while fooling around with it;

* A person unintentionally shoots someone while defending himself against an aggressor;

* A person unintentionally shoots another person while using a gun to commit a crime;

* Firearm injuries caused by unintentionally striking a person with the firearm – e.g., by dropping it on someone’s head, rather than with a projectile fired from the firearm (potential homicide or non-NVDRS accident);

* Unintentional injuries from non-powder guns such as BB, pellet and other compressed air or gas-powered guns (potential homicide or suicide);

* A person engaged in a suicidal act, then changes his mind but still dies as a result of the act.

Sawyer’s ABC News report does not clearly distinguish between crimes committed by young people versus accidental gun injuries. Let me emphasize, all of these issues are on the decline except in gun-free, big-city zones. That’s a story for another day.

I found more stats than I can print, so let’s just pick on Chicago. A few years back, Chicago contributed 508 “kids” to the above statistics in little more than a year. Almost all of the “kids” were male, and a majority of those shootings occurred between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Take a minute and think it through. The majority of the shootings were done while committing a crime, and because they were under 19, they are categorized as “kids.” An 18-year-old “kid” robbing a 7-Eleven and getting shot on his way out is considered in the above numbers. These are not accidental.

My irritation with the “Young Guns” story is that it overdramatizes and lies about the whole truth in order to get us on their side. How about you just give us the facts, the “real” facts, and let us decide what to do with them? Do you realize when you lie to us, we don’t act on the information, and then, like the boy who cried wolf, when there’s actually a real problem, we don’t believe you, and when something bad happens, the blood is on your hands, not ours?

The accidental gun death rate has been falling since 1930, and U.S. accidental gun deaths per year were down to 613 by 2007, out of 300 million-plus people (CDC). By comparison, there were 29,846 accidental deaths by poisoning in 2007 (CDC). Note that it is extremely easy to prevent accidental gun deaths if you simply take the proper precautions to keep your young children from accidentally gaining access to your guns.

If Sawyer was trying to get us to understand about real gun safety in our homes, why use the above? Why not just tell us about the 2,000 real kids whose parents or relatives did not secure their guns properly like most responsible gun owners do, who did not teach their kids about proper gun safety, and whose kids were hurt or killed? Because “gun safety” isn’t on the agenda, that’s why.

Joe Messina is host of The Real Side (TheRealSide.com), a nationally syndicated talk show that runs on AM-1220 KHTS radio and SCVTV [here]. He is also a member of the Hart School Board. His commentary publishes Mondays.

 

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10 Comments

  1. The antis ate up that Young Guns garbage.

  2. The antis ate up that Young Guns garbage.

  3. Anything that can be done to save even one person from gun violence is a must!

  4. Anything that can be done to save even one person from gun violence is a must!

  5. Can’t be too surprised, they also ate up that recent state of the union (obama infomercial)

  6. Can’t be too surprised, they also ate up that recent state of the union (obama infomercial)

  7. It’s so easy to spin. All I care about is this: Ad fingerprint scan on guns so it can’t be used by anyone it isn’t registered to. What we are doing is not working. Time to fix it and forget whether you stand right or left. 1 child killed from firearms is too many.

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