Bias Drives Antigun Agenda in Unintentional Children Death Study

By Salam Fatohi

Child found pistol in drawer at home.
A recent child death study cherry-picked data to support anti-gun rhetoric. IMG iStock-940915470

U.S.A. -( is no greater loss than that of a child’s life. Unintentional or accidental death can be even more jarring due to the seemingly preventable nature. Certainly, unintentional childhood death is an especially sensitive topic, but a recent study led by Dr. Archie Bleyer, M.D., opens the door for discussion.

His study calls into question the use of biased sources upon which he draws predetermined conclusions.

Dr. Bleyer, a Clinical Research Professor of Radiation Medicine, took an interesting approach to bring this topic to the forefront. The study is highly speculative about firearm ownership as a whole and calls into question the safety steps that firearm owners take at home. Aside from the obvious bias present in the report and relying upon research from a gun control advocacy group, Everytown For Gun Safety, the most alarming issue with the research is the distorted use of Center For Disease Control and Prevention WISQARS (CDC Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System) data.

Instead of publishing the exact figures reported by the CDC, the authors elected to condense and convert the numbers to push their agenda: blaming the existence of firearms for unintentional deaths of children.

Anyone would be alarmed to hear that, “the rate of unintentional firearm deaths in children ages 1 – 4 increased exponentially at an average annual percent of 4.9 between 1999 and 2018.”

The problem with this claim is that the authors are cherry-picking and obfuscating while not making available the full breadth of data. Using the CDC’s WISQARS system to collect the same data as Dr. Bleyer, NSSF researchers came to a different conclusion.

Intentionally Misleading

The CDC WISQARS reported 431 unintentional deaths of children aged 0 to 4, from 1999 to 2018, noting a “firearm” as the only cause or mechanism of injury. This is a staggering number for anyone, let alone responsible firearm owners who practice and preach safety daily. Using the same criteria for the previous result but excluding firearms as a factor, NSSF found a total of 51,857 unintentional deaths for the same group of children and timeframe. This means that firearms were involved in less than one percent – 0.83 percent – of unintentional deaths in children aged 0 to 4 years for the nearly 20-year time span studied. Dr. Bleyer is not alone in his use of sensational statistics to attempt to muster support for more restrictions on Second Amendment rights and the firearm industry. Studies like this are used to rationalize the false narrative that firearms are a public health crisis.

The very small percentage of unintentional deaths among this age group is due to programs like NSSF’s Project ChildSafe and others that promote responsible gun handling and storage. According to the latest CDC Childhood Injury Report, the leading cause of death for children under one year of age is suffocation. For one-to-four-year olds, the most imminent dangers are transportation-related, drowning, fires, and burns, respectively. Americans do not avoid dangerous things simply because there is risk involved. When there is a risk present, education is the primary avenue pursued to make sure those who own swimming pools or drive cars, for example, are aware of the dangers posed to their children or those visiting. The same approach is applied to safe firearm ownership.

A Successful Strategy

On behalf of the firearm industry, the NSSF is the leader in responsible firearm ownership and education through initiatives like Project ChildSafe. Our commitment to genuine firearm safety is accomplished through safety education and free firearm safety kits all across the United States. Project ChildSafe has distributed over 40 million locking devices in partnership with over 15,000 local law enforcement agencies, provided up-to-date firearm safety material, and even a Firearm Storage and Safety Assessment Quiz that we encourage everyone to take.

Safety is an ongoing practice that must be habitual for it to be effective. With over 8.4 million new gun owners estimated in 2020, the discussion around firearm safety is paramount. The firearm industry will continue to lead the way by offering Real Solutions for safer communities.

About The National Shooting Sports Foundation

NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations, and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit

National Shooting Sports Foundation

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What about the millions of unborn children that have been killed on purpose? What is different? What’s worse getting killed accidentally after you’ve been alive, or being killed on purpose, before you have a chance to live?


Publish the deaths from GSWs for children under 5 by zip code.

For each zip code, divide the deaths by the population in that zip code.

For the zip codes with highest rate of such deaths, pick a one year period and provide a description of the circumstances of each and every child under 5 who died from GSWs.

What you will conclude is different from the picture Bleyer painted.

You can’t legislate away bad parenting.


– Statistics are only really useful when “the law of large numbers” applies. 431 deaths or 22 per year over entire US is not enough for any meaningful analysis. Any detailed conclusions drawn are simply conjecture, unless data is skewed wildly. Kind of the point of refuting “exponential growth” conclusion.
Only real supported conclusion is that at national level this is not a problem. At individual family level this is horrifically tragic. Many thanks to NSSF and other gun safety organizations for helping enable parents to protect their families.


If one of the pro gun groups followed the zip code methodology and provided a detailed description of the circumstances of all the deaths in the zip codes with the highest rates, it would provide a very different story than the one being portrayed. You’re right – it wouldn’t be many cases in the analysis. Because the number is small, a detailed description could be provided (like a couple page write up of what happened). The anti-gun activists don’t want this information to be available because it clearly shows a large percentage of the deaths had everything to do with… Read more »


When the data does not support your preconceived notion, cook the data. This is exactly the case. One wonders what would happen if we collected data on prohibited possessors and then subsequently looked at child deaths in those homes. Crack house babieshaving access to crack house guns laying all about the crack house.


Essentially we need more laws to protect stupid people? Are these the same people advocating that their child got run over because the government didn’t protect them? What happened to teach your children well?


Some of these under 5 year old children are being killed when urban gang members do drive by shootings at “celebration of life” parties at midnight. Their 21 year-old mothers bring them to these alcohol and drug fueled events and let them play with other little kids. Because some of the “mourners/celebrators” disrespected the killers of the person being mourned/celebrated, the disrespected gang member does a drive-by at the celebration and shoots wildly killing the little kid. The anti-gun people have a solution: arrest a suburban dad when his ex-wife finds out he did not have the mandated storage device… Read more »


reply on hold

Last edited 1 year ago by JSNMGC

I appreciate your concern, but I view posting here as a privilege. The site owes me nothing. I don’t know why certain posts are held up – it could be a function of how the system works. I only post that a comment is on hold to let them know. Some of the posts, like the senseless deaths of small children may be controversial, but if researchers pull the data and do some interviews they will see some heartbreaking stories. Gun storage laws have nothing to do with saving the lives of young children and everything to do with giving… Read more »

Dave in Fairfax

Will & JSNMGC,

We don’t flag controversial, If we did it would be REALLY quiet. I can’t explain how the filters work, I just check the bit box every chance I get and rescue posts. If you get caught after I go to bed, or in between my checks, it’ll take a bit longer, but I WILL get there. A LOT of garbage gets caught that you don’t ever see.


I can only imagine.

Thanks for releasing the posts.


Ah, sorry.

I just meant it was their business and they would fix it if they wanted to or it could be the issue Joe ran into and, therefore, there really isn’t much Dave can do.

Dave in Fairfax


Not a problem, I’m pretty thick-skinned. The problem with COTS software and anti-spam filters are that they are WYSIWYG. You can’t really tinker with them. The anti-spam places get info from all over and add IP’s and terms as they come across them. Getting something removed is incredibly difficult. A woodworking list I’m on got added by some idjit and it took a long time to convice one of the major anti-spam companies that “wood” was code for something obscene and that mailing a message to thousands of people wasn’t spam either.


You’re not supposed to use acronyms, man. You’ll get in trouble.

If you keep it up, I’m going to go all WACC, DCF, and ROIC.

Dave in Fairfax


My bad, you’re right.
COTS means Commercial Off The Shelf software.
I’ll try not to let it happen again. Spoiler alert: it prolly will.


I know you know I was joking.

Dave in Fairfax


crazy joe

There is no cure for stupidity.


Stupid is Foh-evaaahh!


Guns can’t be good or bad — it’s simply a thing — a tool.


it is strange that they include deaths by gang banger’s as un intentional death; they are shooting at rivals, and the children of their rivals are legitimate targets to them!

Last edited 1 year ago by swmft