Warning: CDC Research “Should be Treated as Unstable and Potentially Unreliable”

posted on December 6, 2018

A recent report from none other than the anti-gun website The Trace, in conjunction with FiveThirtyEight, indicates that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been publishing unreliable data on nonfatal firearm injuries, which is then being parroted in anti-gun journals and other publications.

Fatal firearm injury data from the CDC is based on death certificates. Nonfatal injury data, however, is collected through a survey conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The small survey included only 100 out of 5,534 registered hospitals, and only 66 provided the relevant data—that’s less than 2 percent of hospitals throughout the country!

Not surprisingly given the limited dataset, CDC’s figures show a large increase in nonfatal firearm injuries between 2015 and 2016, despite other studies showing just the opposite. Interestingly, the CDC itself doesn’t even trust the data, warning that the information should be treated as “unstable and potentially unreliable.” In fact, as The Trace reported, the agency’s 2016 estimate of gun injuries is more uncertain than nearly every other type of injury it tracks. “Even its estimates of BB-gun injuries are more reliable than its calculations for the number of Americans wounded by actual guns,” it said.

“No one should trust the CDC’s nonfatal firearm injury point estimates.” Anti-gun researcher David Hemenway

In justifying its numbers, the Consumer Product Safety Commission shed more light on just how inaccurate the results are. That organization reported that there is so much variance in data that the true number of nonfatal firearm injuries for 2016 was somewhere between 46,524 and 186,304. How’s that for narrowing it down!

Even noted anti-gun researcher David Hemenway skewered the study, stating, “No one should trust the CDC’s nonfatal firearm injury point estimates.” Of course, that analysis is too late for the 50 or more academic papers that have used CDC estimates on nonfatal firearms injuries since 2010—not to mention the untold number of fake news reports generated by the anti-gun media.


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