David Hardy writes:
USA Today reports, with customary horror, that 1,700,000 children are in homes with unsecured guns, and that one-third of American homes have firearms in them. It goes on to say 1,400 “children and teens” are shot to death each year, and pumps for laws on gun storage (i.e., to criminalize failure to store in various ways). “It’s a frightening problem,” says Michael Barnes, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a lobbying group that favors limiting gun ownership.
Let’s look at the figures. Actually, in 2003 762 Americans of all ages died in gun accidents, according to the National Safety Council. USA Today gets a higher number by including teens (i.e., up to age 20) and gang-banger homicides, which are hardly relevant to safe gun storage.
Economist John Lott calculated the actual number of child gun accidental deaths, and found it was about 30 per year — lower than the number that die of drowning in buckets.
However, if you look at the study cited by USA Today, you will see that the 1,400 deaths are for children under 18 and they do not include 18–20 year olds. Nor does it seem correct to ignore deaths by murder or suicide since easy access to a loaded gun by a child could certainly be a factor in such cases.
In any case it is not true that there were 30 child gun accidental deaths per year. WISQARS says that there 115 such accidental deaths for ages 0–17. Hardy can’t even blame Lott for this one, since Lott said that his figure was just for children aged 0–4.
Nor is Hardy correct when he says that USA Today pumps for laws on safe gun storage. As well as reporting Vernick’s support for such laws, they report an NRA spokesman arguing that education was a superior approach.