The CDC got started in the gun violence game back in 1994, when Mark Rosenberg, then-director for the CDC division focused on Injury Prevention, said,
We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like what we did with cigarettes. It used to be that smoking was a glamour symbol -- cool, sexy, macho. Now it is dirty, deadly -- and banned.
The CDC has been researching and reporting on gun violence ever since.
Last year, the CDC announced it was going to start treating gun violence as an endemic that needed to be tracked and eradicated.
Around the same time, some of the statistics that used to be part of its reports magically disappeared, namely the self-defense numbers.
A collection of emails published by The Reload shows that CDC officials met with anti-gun activists regarding its publication of self-defense statistics. The activists wanted the self-defense numbers removed.
The numbers in question show that guns are used in self-defense between 60,000 and 2.5 million times per year in the United States.
Activist Mark Bryant, who runs the Gun Violence Archive and met with the CDC, complained that the numbers are standing in the way of gun-control legislation:
[T]hat 2.5 Million number needs to be killed, buried, dug up, killed again and buried again. 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."
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.
The numbers were replaced with the following statement:
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.
Pro-gun-control numbers remain, citing 45,222 firearm related deaths in 2020, 86% of firearm deaths are males, 7-in-10 firearm injuries are from assaults, etc.
Gary Kleck, Professor Emeritus at Florida State University's College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, whose research provided the 2.5 million gun-defense estimate called the CDC's removal of the information "blatant censorship" and said it was evidence of the politicization of the agency.
"CDC is just aligning itself with the gun-control advocacy groups," Kleck told 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."
Bryant and the Gun Violence Archive has also redefined mass shootings to include any shooting where four or more victims are injured, and only counts self-defense scenarios that are reported to police. The difference in methodology results in what appears to be gun violence happening at a near 7-to-1 ratio over self-defense since most self-defense is not reported if the gun doesn't need to be fired.
In a letter to Bryant, the CDC refused to rewrite its definition of mass shootings and self-defense according to his standards, calling his self-defense numbers a very small subset of defensive gun use.
At least they're willing to push back on that craziness.