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Oh, So That's Why the CDC Torpedoed Its Gun Study

AP Photo/Wilson Ring

It's a bit of old news, but when is that ever appropriate to say about our constitutional right to bear arms, along with the incessant attacks against it? The Reload found this nugget last month: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention got manhandled by anti-gun groups to remove its commissioned study that justified legitimate uses of firearms in self-defense situations. In other words, it was about "good guys with guns," and there was data to support that hypothesis. Anti-gun groups wanted this study torched because it would make it harder for them to pass gun control legislation. 

This effort to torpedo the problematic study occurred in 2021. The best part is the series of emails The Reload obtained showing the communications between the Biden White House and these gun control groups who dismiss the study as misinformation and having no value because it guts their agenda like a fish. The CDC, at first, stood by its findings in September 2021 but relented to outside pressure by December (via The Reload):

The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) deleted a reference to a study it commissioned after a group of gun-control advocates complained it made passing new restrictions more difficult. 

The lobbying campaign spanned months and culminated with a private meeting between CDC officials and three advocates last summer, a collection of emails obtained by The Reload show. Introductions from the White House and Senator Dick Durbin’s (D., Ill.) office helped the advocates reach top officials at the agency after their initial attempt to reach out went unanswered. The advocates focused their complaints on the CDC’s description of its review of studies that estimated defensive gun uses (DGU) happen between 60,000 and 2.5 million times per year in the United States–attacking criminologist Gary Kleck’s work establishing the top end of the range. 

“[T]hat 2.5 Million number needs to be killed, buried, dug up, killed again and buried again,” Mark Bryant, one of the attendees, wrote to CDC officials after their meeting. “It is highly misleading, is used out of context and I honestly believe it has zero value – even as an outlier point in honest DGU discussions.” 

Bryant, who runs the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), argued Kleck’s estimate has been damaging to the political prospects of passing new gun restrictions and should be eliminated from the CDC’s website. 

“And while that very small study by Gary Kleck has been debunked repeatedly by everyone from all sides of this issue [even Kleck] it still remains canon by gun rights folks and their supporting politicians and is used as a blunt instrument against gun safety regulations every time there is a state or federal level hearing,” he wrote in the same email. “Put simply, in the time that study has been published as ‘a CDC Study’ gun violence prevention policy has ground to a halt, in no small part because of the misinformation that small study provided.” 

Despite initially standing behind the description in the defensive gun use section of its “fast facts” website on gun violence, the CDC backtracked after a previously-undisclosed virtual meeting with the advocates on September 15th, 2021.

These groups also have their media allies to think about, who pervasively misreport the basics of the firearms lexicon and current law. The fact that they don't know the difference between semi-automatic and automatic is beyond inexcusable, along with the ignorance that domestic abusers already cannot own firearms. Some even confuse shotguns with AR-15 rifles, which is real misinformation.

Yet, once again, we had a major network—CBS—peddle a misleading study on mass shootings that ignored defensive uses. The new wave of anti-gun coverage comes after two mass shootings occurred in California this month around the Lunar New Year celebrations, though Asian males committed both. That shouldn't matter, but in today's media paradigm of focusing on race and identity, these shootings would be given the proverbial drive-by treatment. There's nothing here to weaponize against Republicans:

Since the mass shooting in Monterey Park, California … viewers of English and Spanish broadcast networks have seen the reported number of mass shootings in the United States jump from 33 to 39 in just three days. And as CBS Morning’s co-host Nate Burleson put it on Tuesday, “my logic says that has to be wrong, those numbers have to be exaggerated, and they are not.” But Burleson should’ve listened to his logic because his instinct was correct. Yet, these networks have also ignored a recent study that shows an average of 1.67 million defensive gun uses per year.

… the liberal broadcast networks and Spanish-language networks have cited the anti-gun Gun Violence Archive (GVA) 20 times. From Sunday morning to Tuesday morning (January 22-24) the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) cited the Gun Violence Archive 9 times during their morning and evening flagship newscasts. Telemundo and Univision cited GVA 11 times (including on their noon and late-night newscasts).

It's the same old story. Thus far, gun rights groups have been able to stop atrocious anti-Second Amendment pushes outside of the blue hell holes that dot the country. I would've liked to say there are enough pro-gun Republicans to kill new gun control legislative efforts, but Senators McConnell and Cornyn decided to surrender on that last year. Overall, we clinched significant court wins, especially on carry rights, so not all is lost. 


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