New CDC data un­der­state ac­ci­den­tal shoot­ing deaths of kids

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

IOWA CITY: Govern­ment sta­tis­tics re­leased this week claim­ing that 77 mi­nors in the US were killed by un­in­ten­tional gun dis­charges last year sig­nif­i­cantly un­der­state the scope of an en­dur­ing pub­lic health prob­lem.

A re­view of shoot­ings na­tion­wide by The As­so­ci­ated Press and USA TO­DAY Net­work found that at least 141 deaths of mi­nors were at­trib­uted to un­in­ten­tional or ac­ci­den­tal shoot­ings in 2015 - 83 per­cent higher than what the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol re­ported.

Ad­vo­cates for stricter laws and new tech­nol­ogy meant to keep guns away from chil­dren ar­gue that many of the deaths are pre­ventable, and the un­der­count is sig­nif­i­cant be­cause it can skew the pub­lic pol­icy de­bate. Lobbyists for the firearms in­dus­try, in­clud­ing the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion, cite the CDC sta­tis­tics to ar­gue that such deaths are so rare that vol­un­tary ed­u­ca­tion - not ad­di­tional laws or reg­u­la­tions - are needed.

CDC of­fi­cials have ac­knowl­edged that their sta­tis­tics are low be­cause they rely on how coro­ners clas­sify the fa­tal­i­ties on death cer­tifi­cates. Some coro­ners rule deaths in which one child un­in­ten­tion­ally shoots an­other as a homi­cide rather than an ac­ci­den­tal dis­charge - be­cause they fit the def­i­ni­tion of be­ing killed by an­other. They also can clas­sify them as un­de­ter­mined if the in­tent is un­clear - for ex­am­ple, if it’s not cer­tain whether a mi­nor com­mit­ted sui­cide or ac­ci­den­tally shot him­self.

AP and USA TO­DAY Net­work counted fa­tal shoot­ings that were de­clared ac­ci­den­tal or un­in­ten­tional by in­ves­ti­gat­ing agen­cies. The me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions’ re­view did not in­clude deaths where guns were fired on pur­pose, such as cases of stray bul­lets or cel­e­bra­tory gun­fire.

Un­der­count

The un­der­count for 2015 is in line with, but more sig­nif­i­cant than, the one ob­served for 2014, when the CDC missed one-third of the 113 deaths doc­u­mented by the me­dia out­lets.

The CDC data, re­leased Thurs­day, does track a trend iden­ti­fied in the me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions’ re­view in which deaths of all mi­nors are most com­mon among 3-year-olds, who typ­i­cally pick up un­se­cured, loaded guns in their homes and fire back at them­selves. The data also shows an­other spike in deaths among 15- to 17-yearolds, who are more likely to be shot by an­other teen play­ing with a gun. —AP

AT­LANTA: In this June 28, 2016 file photo, Mark Rosen­berg, the for­mer di­rec­tor of the CDC’s Na­tional Cen­ter for In­jury Preven­tion and Con­trol, poses for a photo out­side his home. —AP

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