(Congress Report) – The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) deleted a reference to a study the organization commissioned after a group of strict gun-control advocates whined that it made passing their Second Amendment destroying regulations more difficult to pass. News flash. If they are more difficult to pass, it means that the vast majority of individuals who are working in both federal and state legislatures feel the regulations are infringing on a person’s God-given right to own a gun. This is not rocket science. Most people do not want their ability to buy guns more limited than it already is.
According to Stephen Gutowski who is a writer for The Reload, “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 event’s attendees, wrote to CDC officials after the 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 is currently in charge of the Gun Violence Archive, also known as the GVA, made the case that Kleck’s estimate has done significant damage to the prospects of passing new, more strict gun regulations and should be taken down from the CDC’s website. Because suppression of accurate information in favor of pushing a specific agenda is all the rage these days, isn’t it?
After complaints from a trio of gun-control advocates, the CDC quietly altered its website to remove a range of estimates on how often guns are used in self-defense. https://t.co/tKmo3v3BNg
— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) December 15, 2022
Official CDC position on defensive gun use: https://t.co/XyvnwTEldU pic.twitter.com/EwULP8ahGt
— Defensive Gun Use (@DefensiveGun) June 26, 2022
“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 stated 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,” Gutowski went on to write.
“We are planning to update the fact sheet in early 2022 after the release of some new data,” Beth Reimels, Associate Director for Policy, Partnerships, and Strategic Communication at the CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention, commented in an email to the three advocates on December 10th. “We will also make some edits to the content we discussed that I think will address the concerns you and other partners have raised.”
When asked to comment on the situation, the CDC did not offer up a response.
“Hannah Bristol of the White House Office of Public Engagement did not respond to a request for comment on her role in the discussions beyond what the emails reveal. Emily Hampsten, Senator Durbin’s Communications Director, told The Reload their office’s only involvement was ‘simply connecting’ ‘stakeholder organizations’ with a federal agency as part of the ‘basic function of our work,'” The Reload reported.
The choice to take down the CDC-commissioned report from the agency website concerning gun statistics at the behest of tyrannical gun control nuts might end up further tarnishing the relationship it has with Congressional overseers, especially many of the pro-Second Amendment members of the GOP who will be taking control of the House at the beginning of the new year. This is a relationship already in tatters thanks to the hoopla surrounding the coronavirus pandemic for which we still haven’t gotten satisfactory answers on a number of critical questions surrounding the handling of the ordeal and the origin of the virus itself.
“We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like what we did with cigarettes,” Mark Rosenberg, who serves as the director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention, told The Washington Post in 1994. “It used to be that smoking was a glamour symbol–cool, sexy, macho. Now it is dirty, deadly–and banned.”
“Kleck, Professor Emeritus at Florida State University’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, stood by his research. He said the CDC did not reach out to him for his perspective before making the change. He argued the removal of the reference to his estimate was “blatant censorship” and said it was evidence of the politicization of the agency,” The Reload stated.
“CDC is just aligning itself with the gun-control advocacy groups,” Kleck said in an interview with The Reload. “It’s just saying: ‘we are their tool, and we will do their bidding.’ And that’s not what a government agency should do.”
“The website change and the fact that it resulted from a lobbying campaign were first reported by The Trace earlier this year. The publication identified Bryant’s involvement and that of Devin Hughes, who runs GVPedia. The new emails revealed through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Konstadinos Moros, a lawyer representing the California Rifle & Pistol Association, showed the nature of that lobbying and the involvement of Newtown Action Alliance chairwoman Po Murray,” Gutowski penned.
There is no gray area after a decade of mass shootings. AR15s are the weapons of choice for mass shooters. If you don’t support an assault weapons ban then you support arming mass shooters.
— Po Murray (@po_murray) November 20, 2022
Bryant and the GVA managed to snag some of the spotlight after it’s count of “mass shootings” which uses a very broad definition of the crime, as any shooting where there are four or more victims, either injured or killed, counts as one, compared to the definition being used by the Associated Press which says a mass shooting has four or more dead victims. This might seem like a splitting of hairs, but in reality, the definition used by Bryant leads to an almost ten-fold difference in the number of mass shootings identified.
“Conversely, GVA uses the most conservative criteria for what constitutes a defensive gun use. Instead of attempting to capture any time a person legally uses a gun to defend themselves or others, it only counts incidents that make it into media reports or police reports (though it’s unclear how many police reports they have access to). The site’s methodology takes a strikingly dismissive tone towards any other potential defensive gun uses,” Gutowski reported.
“Our policies do not take into account stories not reported, ‘I can’t believe this happened to me’ scenarios or extrapolations from surveys,” the methodology goes on to say. “Our position is that if an incident is significant enough that a responsible gun owner fears for their life and determines a need to threaten lethal force it is significant enough to report to police so law enforcement can stop that perpetrator from harming someone else.”
While the goal of the GVA is stated as being to provide “unbiased, unfiltered data on gun violence in America,” Bryant then described a very different motive in lobbying for the CDC to take down the link to its own study on the defensive use of firearms.
“Until proof if (SIC) available we in the GVP community respectfully request that this outlier that has been used so often to stop legislation be removed until a panel can build a fair survey which will better reflect the true status of the number of DGUs,” he stated in the follow up to the CDC in after the meeting.
The GVPedia’s website also says its prerogative is to “provide ready access to academic research and high quality data on gun violence.” However, Hughes and the organization he works for both equate owning a gun with smoking and drunk driving. Kind of a stretch don’t you think?
“While Bryant and Hughes have produced gun violence research, Po Murray is a more traditional activist. Despite the CDC telling The Trace it had only heard from ‘a few members of the gun research community who expressed concern about the original fact sheet content,”’Murray was the one who facilitated the entire conversation through her contacts in the White House and Senator Durbin’s office,” the story explained.
“The three advocates met with CDC Acting Principal Deputy Director Deb Houry, Associate Director of Science for the Division of Violence Prevention Tom Simon, and Associate Director for Policy, Partnerships, and Strategic Communication Beth Reimels. The half-hour meeting was conducted over Microsoft Teams, but a transcript of the call either wasn’t kept or wasn’t turned over as part of the FOIA request. The CDC did not respond to questions about what was said during the meeting,” Gutowski continued.
The meeting is the result of a back-and-forth email exchange between the advocates and officials at the CDC that focused on critiques concerning Kleck’s scholarship. Hughes went on to make the case that Kleck’s publicized findings that there are upwards of 2.5 million defensive gun uses a year is “criminologically impossible” based on critiques that closely resemble those he’d been making since 2015 in a dispute with Politico.
“We stand behind our fact sheet,” Linda Dahlberg, a senior advisor to the director of the Division of Violence Prevention, said to Reimels during an internal discussion on how to respond to Hughes in August 2021, “which essentially points out that estimates of defensive gun use vary depending on the data source, questions asked, populations studied, timeframes, and other factors related to the design of studies.”
“Because estimates of defensive gun use vary depending on the questions asked, populations studied, timeframe, and other factors related to study design, and given the wide variability in previous estimates and the desire to keep the fact sheet short and succinct,” the agency went on to say to the publication, “it made the most sense to remove the numbers from the fact sheet and acknowledge that additional research is necessary to understand defensive gun use prevalence, frequency, circumstances, and outcomes.”
However, Kleck isn’t buying it.
“The justification for keeping any defensive gun use estimates out in order to keep a fact sheet succinct, it’s just another way of saying we can’t afford to even put one sentence in about the most frequent violence-related use of firearms,” he said while speaking with The Reload. “That the factsheet is not in any way harmed by including this fact.”
“He argued the real purpose of removing the estimates and link to further reading on the topic would result in further confusion for people who visit the site–something he said was the goal of the advocates who lobbied for its deletion,” Gutowski stated.
“You can’t understand any significant aspects of the gun-control debate once you eliminate defensive gun use,” he commented. “It becomes inexplicable why so many Americans oppose otherwise perfectly reasonable gun-control measurements. It’s because they think it’s gonna lead to prohibition, and they won’t have a gun for self-defense.”
“It’s not complicated,” he added.
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