Gun Rights Group Skeptical of New Harvard Study

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

( - A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that children between the ages of 5 and 14 are dying at dramatically higher rates in states that have more guns. Pro-gun groups, however, expressed skepticism about the Harvard findings.

The study, which appears in the current issue of "The Journal of Trauma," said children living in the five states with highest levels of gun ownership were 16 times more likely to die from unintentional firearm injury, seven times more likely to die from firearm suicide, and three times more likely to be murdered with guns than children in five states with the lowest levels of gun ownership.

Additionally, the study found that children in the top five gun-ownership states were twice as likely to die from homicide and suicide overall as children in the five lowest gun ownership states.

The five states with the highest levels of gun ownership were: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and West Virginia. The five states with the lowest levels of gun ownership were: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Delaware.

The Violence Policy Center believes the study sends a simple message: "It's The Guns, Stupid."

"This illustrates the pivotal role played by firearms and disproves the false claim that if guns were not available, shooters would simply employ other means. Most importantly, this study proves what common sense would dictate: A greater availability of guns has dangerous and deadly consequences. Firearms in the home pose an enormous threat to the well-being of our nation's children," VPC executive director Josh Sugarmann said in a statement.

The National Rifle Association was skeptical of the Harvard study.

"We don't have and haven't seen a copy of the study," said Kelly Whitley, an NRA spokeswoman.

"But, as always, we are skeptical about any study funded by numerous advocates of gun control. Having not seen the data, we don't know whether Harvard's proxy measure of gun ownership is reliable for a study of this kind," she said.

"But, one might be suspicious of a national study that ignored 40 of 50 states as the press release suggests," said Whitley.

"NRA tends to trust data on this issue from a more reliable source such as the National Center for Health Statistics. Their data shows that accidental firearm deaths, especially among children, have been declining since the 1930s and are currently at an all-time low while the U.S. population has doubled and the number of firearms owned has quadrupled," Whitley concluded.

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