This week, The Washington Post ran an editorial titled “Children are dying because of America’s lax gun policies” that blames the NRA and American freedom for the deaths of nearly “1,300 children” per year.
The editorial begins: “The toll of gun violence on American children is laid out in the grim numbers of a new government study. Nearly 1,300 children are killed and nearly 6,000 injured every year. That is more than three children killed a day and more than 15 children a day treated for gunshot wounds.”
The Washington Post then links to articles of the shootings of a 4-year-old girl, an 8-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy that occurred just before a report titled “Childhood Firearm Injuries in the United States” was published in Pediatrics this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Post concludes: “We can, of course, thank the National Rifle Association and the lawmakers who cower before it for this lunacy.” The editors at the Post then present their favorite solution—gun control.
... this report shows that the Post’s take isn’t just disingenuous and ideological spin, but that the editors actually push the facts so far that they are guilty of fake news.Such is the narrative the Post likes to push. But the problem, as usual, is that even this report shows that the Post’s take isn’t just disingenuous and ideological spin, but that the editors actually push the facts so far that they are guilty of fake news.
This leads to another and more sickening problem: The Washington Post editorial board is purposely ignoring the truth to push an anti-gun agenda, and in the process they are getting in the way of solving the problem where it exists.
By using accidental shootings for three of its five examples, the Post editorial pushes the perception that most, if not all, of the 1,300 deaths are accidental fatalities. Yet the report they cite says only 6 percent of all deaths in the study were accidental. Most of the deaths were white males ages 13-17 who committed suicide, and black males ages 13-17 who died in gang/drug/crime-related shootings.
The study says:
On average, from 2012 to 2014, nearly 1,300 children (N = 1,297) died each year in the United States from a firearm-related injury, for an annual crude rate of 1.8 per 100, 000 (Table 1). Fifty-three percent of these were homicides (n = 693), 38 percent were suicides (n = 493), and 6 percent were unintentional firearm deaths (n = 82); the remaining 3 percent were due to legal intervention (n = 9) and deaths of undetermined intent (n = 19).
To further break down these numbers so we can find solutions, the report notes:
African American children have the highest rates of firearm mortality overall (4.1 per 100,000), and this disparity is largely a function of differences between racial and ethnic groups in firearm homicide. From 2012 to 2014, the annual firearm homicide rate for African American children (3.5 per 100,000) was nearly twice as high as the rate for American Indian children (2.2 per 100,000), 4 times higher than the rate for Hispanic children (0.8 per 100,000), and ∼10 times higher than the rate for white children and Asian American children (each 0.4 per 100,000).
The report also concludes that “firearm homicides among older children were more likely to be precipitated by another crime, to be gang-related, and to have drug involvement. ...” But none of that information ever made it into the Post’s editorial.
What clearly does work to reduce accidental deaths and suicides is public education, such as that the NRA conducts.It’s also hard to see how the Post’s goal—enacting more gun control on a national level, such as requiring people to lock up their guns and, presumably, to empower officials to inspect millions of peoples’ homes to make sure they comply—is the most effective way to reduce the suicide rate, as the United States now ranks 48th in that category. Aren’t education and prevention more likely to help more troubled youth and their parents? After all, many other nations—places with many fewer firearms in public hands, such as Belgium and South Korea—have higher suicide rates than the United States.
What clearly does work to reduce accidental deaths and suicides is public education, such as that the NRA conducts. So why can’t the Post help with that education by interviewing people who teach those programs and by reporting the findings? Instead of simply attacking the NRA and its millions of members who own and perhaps carry guns, why can’t the editorial board look for common ground and real solutions and stop playing partisan politics with peoples’ lives?
The report found that the few accidental shootings that occur are often related to ignorance. The report says, “More than one-third of the deaths of older children occurred in incidents in which the shooter thought that the gun was unloaded or thought that the safety was engaged, suggesting a lack of knowledge about the safe handling of a firearm and potentially a lack of adult supervision.” Many, presumably, weren’t taught gun safety. Teaching real gun safety to children (notice the term “gun safety” is not being used here as a synonym for “gun control”) is a proven method for reducing accidents as it shows youth what to do if they come across a gun and it reduces the mystique surrounding firearms with a little familiarity. Teaching new gun owners how to safely shoot and store firearms is critical as well.
So why does the Post, for example, ignore or downplay these common-sense, noncontroversial solutions—things that respect longstanding American freedom?
Oh right, they’re playing politics—in this case with children’s lives.Frank Miniter is the author of Kill Big Brother, a novel that shows how to keep government from infringing on our liberties. Miniter is also the author of the The New York Times' bestseller The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide—Recovering the Lost Art of Manhood, This Will Make a Man of You and The Future of the Gun. He is a contributor to Forbes and writes for many publications. His website is FrankMiniter.com.