Controversial Bloomberg Ad Claims Gun Accidents Happen “All the Time”

Pushing back against a gun lobby that has long ruled the landscape of firearm regulations in this country, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a new web-based ad this week -- and it’s not for the faint of heart.

The ad depicts two kids, initially engaging in an innocuous game of hide-and-go seek, that turns deadly when the young girl uncovers a family handgun and manages to remove the safety and fire the weapon.

After a pregnant pause, the ad tells the audience, “Scenes like this happen all the time.”

The spot is the launch of a $50 million campaign that Bloomberg is bankrolling through his firearm safety group, Everytown, meant to stir both emotions and legislative change when it comes to our gun laws.

When asked why he’s taking this approach, Mayor Bloomberg said recently on the Today Show,
"To make sure that we reward those who are protecting lives, and make sure that those who are trying to keep people from being protected- lose elections!"

But Bloomberg’s claim isn’t about losing elections. Rather, it’s about losing lives.

Specifically, the high-profile gun control activist is crafting a message that young kids are losing their lives “all the time” because of accidental gun deaths.

Is that true?

Part of the answer lies in how one defines ‘all the time,’ but data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) clearly shows accidental child deaths in this country come from a variety of causes, and firearms is not the primary contributor. In fact, it’s nowhere near the top half of the list.

Here is a chart highlighting the various causes of accidental child deaths in this country for 2010, per the CDC:

A child is defined as a person up to the age of 14.

After crunching the numbers, we found that the top four causes are as follows:

  • Unintentional Motor Vehicle Traffic: 1,225 deaths
  • Unintentional Suffocation: 1,118 deaths
  • Unintentional Drowning: 726 deaths
  • Unintentional Fire/Burn: 308 deaths

Unintentional death by firearm isn’t even listed among the top causes for any of the age brackets, other than 10-14, which saw 26 such deaths in 2010, the latest data.

Across all age groups, there were 62 kids who died in 2010 from unintentional gunfire. That figure is actually a noticeable drop from a decade earlier, when such deaths approached 90, according to the CDC.

So this begs the question, has Mayor Bloomberg been truthful? And would 62 annual deaths really qualify as “all the time?” 

Larry Gerston, NBC Bay Area’s political analyst, said the intent behind Bloomberg’s campaign is to emphasize that this sort of outcome could happen in any household, even if the frequency is rare-
a strong tug on parents’ heartstrings, especially for moms.

"Is it accurate?” Gerston posed. “Well, it's accurate in terms of the fact that children die from gunshot wounds, yes. Where it gets hazy is, do the numbers rise to the level of the attention that they’re getting? And that's where people have a reason to look at it, and think twice."

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