Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton released a new gun control ad in which she combines suicides with firearm-related homicides and, as a result, elevates “gun violence” figures by approximately 66 percent.
While this tact is nothing new, the fact that Clinton is now making these claims in ads that will run over and over again suggests she is willing to benefit from highly inflated, inaccurate numbers, rather than correct the record.
The ad opens with Clinton saying, “This epidemic of gun violence knows no boundaries. Between 88 and 92 people a day are killed by guns. We’re better than this.”
Note the phrase “killed by guns,” which suggests lives are taken by violence perpetrated against innocents. She puts a figure on it, claiming “88 to 92” lives are taken each day by such violence. And she avails herself of the best gun control talking points by describing “gun violence” at this level as an “epidemic.” But here’s the problem with this overarching message: it isn’t true.
In reality, actual firearm-related homicides each year hover between approximately 8,500 and 11,000. And many of these are the result of the kind of gang violence and street crime we see in cities like Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, and St. Louis, among other Democrat-controlled cities.
For instance, in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 11,208 firearm-related homicides in the United States. An additional 505 accidental firearm-related deaths occurred in the US–a figure that pales in comparison to the 38,851 deaths by accidental poisoning or the 30,208 deaths caused by falls. So Clinton and gun control proponents who think like her increase these figures by adding in suicides. In this way, 11,713 firearm-related deaths–homicides and accidental deaths–quickly become 32,888 “gun violence” deaths in 2013 and an impetus for gun control.
In other words, 11,713 gun-related deaths in 2013 represent about 32 deaths a day out of an American population of 318 million people. That is not enough to give gun control the traction it needs to get moving. Add in suicides, however, and that brings the figure to 32,888–and Clinton can lump all deaths together and claim “88 to 92 people are killed” as a result of “gun violence.”
Breitbart News previously reported that Michael Bloomberg did the same thing on April 16, 2014, to inflate deaths by illegal guns. He claimed that “31,000 Americans either get murdered or commit suicide with illegal guns [each year].” This is a gross conflation of the facts and a distortion along the same pattern that we now see with Clinton. Bloomberg was taking actual deaths by “gun violence”–which hover between 8,500 and 11,000 a year–and combining them with approximately 20,000 firearm-related suicides to present figures high enough to justify claims of an epidemic.
The reality can be seen by looking at facts. In 2011, the FBI reported a total of 8,583 murders with firearms, and the CDC statistics show a total of 19,766 suicides with a firearm. Taken together, those figures total 28,349, only about 30 percent of which were the result of actual “gun violence.” Lumping them together gave Bloomberg a 70 percent boost.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.