University of Michigan’s Honorary Doctorate in Gun Control Disinformation • NSSF

By Salam Fatohi

Figures don’t lie. Gun control advocates, though, will always figure a way to manipulate data to mislead the American people, hoping to trick them to support more Second Amendment restrictions.

The most recent and preposterous example comes from researchers at the University of Michigan. They took liberties with the definition of “child” to proclaim that firearms now cause more deaths than car accidents. The problem with their study is they included adults in their figures to make their argument appear impactful.

It’s just one more example of gun control smoke and mirrors.

Maize and Blue Manipulation

Universities and doctors regularly study events and compile reports for public education. Not all studies are created equal. Sometimes authors have predetermined conclusions and cherry-pick data to support those conclusions. That is exactly what the doctors at the University of Michigan Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention did in a study published in April. “Current Causes of Death in Children and Adolescents in the United States” is a misleading title because the study does not concentrate on groups generally accepted as children and adolescents.

“Regardless, the increasing firearm-related mortality reflects a longer-term trend and shows that we continue to fail to protect our youth from a preventable cause of death,” said the study’s authors Dr. Jason Goldstick, Dr. Rebecca Cunningham and Dr. Patrick Carter. “The previous analysis…showed that firearm-related injuries were second only to motor vehicle crashes (both traffic-related and nontraffic-related) as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents, defined as persons 1 to 19 years of age. Since 2016, that gap has narrowed, and in 2020, firearm-related injuries became the leading cause of death in that age group.”

The deception starts immediately by designing the parameters for the study to include individuals up to 19 years old. In the U.S., an 18- or 19-year-old is legally considered an adult who can vote, serve in the military and sign legally binding documents. The study’s scope suggests the focus is on a juvenile demographic when, in reality, it includes those who are nearly the age of 20. Given the conflation between those who are truly children and truly adults in this study, it is difficult to trust the data and conclusions drawn by the authors.

Calculating Misrepresentation

Problematically, the University of Michigan study takes a broad view of these age groups and compares Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mortality data in 2020. If the University of Michigan researchers were truly confident in their data and the way they interpreted figures from the CDC as the basis for their analysis, why manipulate those numbers?

As the authors point out, total firearm-related deaths for people 1-19, including suicide, homicide, unintentional and undetermined intents, were the leading category at a total of 4,357 deaths, overtaking vehicle-related deaths for the first time. This is an alarming number for anyone to wrap their head around. Upon further analysis, it is clear why the authors included adults in the study. Almost half of the reported deaths, 47.9 percent, originate from 18 to 19-year-old adult victims.

Including adults in a children mortality study is clearly a ruse to pad the firearm-related death numbers for institutional interests. Correcting the parameters to only include children, aged 1 to 17, the leading mechanism of death switches back from firearms to motor vehicles, the historic leading cause of death for this demographic.

This is a favored play call by national gun control groups and the “scientific researchers” putting out their predetermined studies. Publish junk science that fits their gun control narrative, score numerous headlines about said junk science and push the need for more gun control on law-abiding Americans because of media reports. This particular study was even published in the home-state paper the Michigan Daily with no examination by reporters. The “news” article did include, however, a quote by gun control group March for Our Lives’ Michigan chapter. “I’m not surprised,” Zoey Rector-Brooks said. “There were so many guns that were purchased (in 2020) and now we’re seeing the effects of that…Our children are dying because of it.”

Since at least the 1990’s, gun control advocates have used this trick of including adults in the data set to inflate the number of “children” to evoke an emotional reaction from readers of these studies to sway public opinion in favor of their agenda.

Real Data. Real Solutions. Safer Communities.®

It is true – law-abiding Americans have purchased a lot of firearms over the past two years. More than 21 million in 2020 and more than 18.5 million in 2021. That includes more than 14 million first-time firearm buyers. Gun owners are defying gun control groups by seeking training, education and confidence in owning their firearms.

The firearm industry is doing its part to ensure firearms are safely stored and out of the reach of those who should not possess them. Every firearm that ships from a factory includes a locking device in the box. When that device is properly installed, it renders the firearm inoperable. NSSF further urges all gun owners that firearm should be properly secured when not in use and owners should explore the various options available to best meets their needs.

Industry initiatives like Project ChildSafe® and suicide prevention resources are a part of the industry’s Real Solutions. Safer Communities® campaign and are impactful ways to prevent tragedies, with undeniable results.

Using gun safety and education as primary tools to prevent firearm injury is likely unconscionable to University of Michigan’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention researchers. However, firearm safety is paramount to preventing tragedies, and misleading studies like this one only pander to the intellectually lazy.

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