By Bronson Winslow
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) quietly removed a range of gun statistics from its website after gun control advocates complained that the statistics made gun control laws harder to pass, according to emails between CDC officials and gun control activists.
Over a three-month period, gun control advocates met with CDC officials about its estimate of defensive gun uses per year, which ranged from 60,000 to 2.5 million based on a review of various studies, according to the emails. The advocates argued that the 2.5 million statistic, found in a study by criminologist Gary Kleck, was misleading, incorrect and made it harder to pass gun control laws, spurring the CDC’s decision to remove the statistics from its website.
“[T]hat 2.5 Million number needs to be killed, buried, dug up, killed again and buried again,” Mark Bryant, one of the attendees who runs the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), wrote in an email to the CDC. “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.”
The CDC initially stood behind the study in the “defensive gun use” section of its “fast facts” website, but opted to remove the statistics after the previously undisclosed meeting with the gun control advocates on Sept. 15, according to The Reload. “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, said in one email.
In place of the range of estimates, the website now says, “Estimates of defensive gun use vary depending on the questions asked, populations studied, timeframe, and other factors related to study design. Given the wide variability in estimates, additional research is necessary to understand defensive gun use prevalence, frequency, circumstances, and outcomes.”
Kleck stood by his research and told The Reload that the CDC did not reach out to him to gain any perspective on the statistic before deciding to remove it, arguing that it is “blatant censorship.”
“CDC is just aligning itself with the gun-control advocacy groups. It’s just saying: ‘we are their tool, and we will do their bidding.’ And that’s not what a government agency should do,” Kleck told The Reload.
The CDC offered an explanation for the removal of the statistic, saying it removed the range of defensive gun use estimates to clarify the issue, as the “very wide range” could “raise more questions than it answered,” according to The Reload.
“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, 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,” the CDC said.
Despite the CDC’s explanation, Kleck argued “that 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 told The Reload. “You can’t understand any significant aspects of the gun-control debate once you eliminate defensive gun use.”
“It’s not complicated,” Kleck continued.
The CDC, Kleck and GVA did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.