Do “more children die of bathtub drownings than of accidental shootings”? Yes.

27 Jan , 2015  

Leonard Pitts, Jr. starts off his national newspaper column this way:

Tucker Carlson said on Fox that more children die of bathtub drownings than of accidental shootings. They don’t.

Yet, Mr. Pitts is the one who is wrong.  According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, between 2006 and 2010 a total of 303 children under age 5 years old drown in just bathtubs (see page 8).  If you include bathtubs used in conjunction with other products (infant bath seats placed in bathtubs), there is a total of 346 children under age 5 years old who drown.  Since these deaths wouldn’t have occurred without a full-size bathtub, it seems as if they should also be included in the total.

By contrast, over that same period, the Centers for Disease Control finds that there were 291 children under age 15 and 94 children under 5 who died from accidental gun shots.  Unfortunately, the CPSC doesn’t break down deaths by age for those 5 and above.

That is a difference in annual rates of 69.2 for bathtubs for those under 5 to 58.2 for accidental firearm deaths for those under 15.

We examined the data back a couple more years.  For 2004 and 2005, there were 114 and 87 accidental drownings in bathtubs for children under age 5 (see page 5).  By contrast, the Centers for Disease Control found 63 and 75 accidental gun deaths for children under age 15.  Over this entire period accidental drowning in bathtubs for those under age 5 averaged 78 per year and accidental gun deaths for those under 15 averaged 61.

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26 Responses

  1. C. Petit says:

    The correct data on the “drowning vs. gun death” issue can be found in the book titled FREAKONOMICS by Levitt & Dubner in the chapter: “What makes a perfect parent?” To summarize the data from around the year 2000 (for ONLY the United States) 550 children under the age of 10 drown each year in the approx. 11,000 privately-owned backyard swimming pools. This does not include bathtubs, public swimming pools, hot tubs, lakes, rivers, oceans, etc. Compare that to 175 children under the age of 10 are killed each year by the approx. 200 million privately-owned guns (probably finding Mommy or Daddy’s gun and playing with it). Therefor, likelihood of death by private pool is 1 in 11,000 vs. 1 in 1million-plus by death by private gun.

    • D J says:

      Lot more than 11,000 privately-owned pools though.

      • Mayorb says:

        Agreed, the actual number is somewhere around 10 million residential pools, a very significant difference.
        Besides, the incidents of child drownings would be 550 kids in 10,000,000 pools making the odds 1 drowning per 18,182 pools.

    • Sandy Graves says:

      17 years as a frontline firefighter and paramedic in the fire service. First hand experience, 1 non-fatal GSW involving a child. 5 fatal drownings from pools and 2 from bathtubs.

  2. Skip says:

    I winder what age Mr. Pitts uses for “children”. I think the CDC considers anyone 21(maybe even older) and under to be a “child” when they are reporting statistics. If one adds the inner city drug/gang violence, I am sure the numbers will be skewed to support his assertion. I wonder how many of us really think of a 17-21 year old as a “child”.

  3. johnrlott says:

    Dear Petit:

    The issue raised here was drowning in bathtubs (see the quote by Leonard Pitts). The data for overall drownings on in pools is much easier to obtain than for just the data on bathtub drownings (rarer deaths are simply not as detailed). As for the Freakonomics book, I was generally much less than impressed. As to some of the errors in the book, see http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1596985062/ref=nosim/?tag=johnrlotttrip-20.

  4. Alex Adams says:

    “Therefore, likelihood of death by private pool is 1 in 11,000 vs. 1 in 1million-plus by death by private gun”

    Petit, doesn’t that prove what Dr. Lott was arguing? lol 1 – 11.000 > 1 – 1,000,000… So you proved his point lol

  5. RichG says:

    Who cares? The arguement is a red herring.

    A better point might be that, while you can’t legislate away bathtubs, you can do lots of things to improve gun safety, starting with education: a gun in the home is far more likely to result in accidental harm than to ever be used against a potential assailant. Or that the NRA lobbies to prohibit funding for any studies showing the connection between gun ownership and accidental deaths. Or that the gun industry has successfully lobbied to have to prohibit criminal prosecution for accidental deaths caused by the negligent actions of a gun owner.

    Those topics might be a bit more worthy of debate.

    • ThinkLonger says:

      I would say more than half the USA cares.
      “you can’t legislate away bathtubs, you can do lots of things to improve gun safety,”
      You can also do a lot to improve bathtub safety which would result in more lives saved.

    • Rey Rey says:

      ” a gun in the home is far more likely to result in accidental harm than to ever be used against a potential assailant.”

      The Kellerman survey has long been debunked as junk science. He used the notorious case control method, good for medical research, but lousy for social research. He is a health policy researcher, not a criminologist and his work is funded by the anti gun lobby.

      Case control means you do NOT study the instances where the “disease,” does not occur.
      In other words, he studied homicides… and in those homes drug use, domestic violence prevailed. Plus they were in non typical U.S. communities. Pretty shoddy research I’d say.

      When confronted Kellerman went from 43 times more likely, to 20 something, then to 1 or two. And when asked if an intruder came into his home would he want his wife armed, he replied, as anyone with a brain would, “Yes. Of course.”

      The American public has been passively swallowing nonsense like this for 30 years now…(Reagan Brady shooting kicked off the Vote Whore rush for a cause).

      Want the truth? Well, how about a criminologist, award winning by his own peers (and you know academics when it comes to competition), refuses any financial support from either faction in the gun debate, is, of all things, a card carrying ACLU member, a liberal and registered democrat. Can you beat that for cred?

      He revealed the startling truth of the immense cost benefit ratio of risk in gun ownership in the U.S. to be heavily on the benefit side, and there is NO logical way around it. Attempt to refute his findings have ended embarrassingly for those trying from the anti gun crowd by paid for attackers, with Kleck easily exposing their silly attempts as fraud.

      You have, as has the American public, been victimized by the Big Lie technique. Thoroughly. I once was too, so don’t feel bad. But as a liberal scholar I make it a point to look for facts, use logic to assess, and rely and scientists with actual credibility in their person and methods.

      This is one of those.

      http://www.rense.com/general76/univ.htm

      • David says:

        bogus your example states he had no peer review, he also did not do statistics to prove your point he never even studied the statistics of the benefit He did not speak of gun ownership vs benefitted risk of owning them, This was a 24 year old study at the time of your comment . The joke is the people he called to survey under 5000 people I the lower 48 only . The difference is it is the criminal decides when the crime will occur..these people he speaks about used their IDEA of what they thought was a crime against them including aggression..ie a family member had an argument they (couldn’t cope with adult words) pulled out a gun or just SAID they had a gun to stop their PERCEIVED “threat”., It would be ignorant to believe that 2.5 million people “defended” themselves against a criminal a year actually it is laughable that would mean they in fact would turn around and become the criminal themselves.. HOW can this be? Because the survey shows the “victims” outgunned the criminals.. so exactly WHO is committing the crime? lol The other thing you don’t account for the survey only asks about burglarize, rob or rape survey also included gun uses against animals . only 27,000 homicides occurred in 92 although the survey was done in 1991 I doubt it jumped THAT high as Klecks “study” implies ! unless they happened to call only all the criminals .DOJ study reported 83,000 annual defensive gun uses from 1987-1992. During same period, there were more than 135,000 total gun deaths and injuries in the U.S. annually. “In most cases victims who used firearms to defend themselves or their property were confronted by offenders who were either unarmed or armed with weapons other than firearms.” Specifically, only 35% of those who used a firearm in self-defense actually faced an offender who had a gun”. maybe some were even dogs ? it’s pointless to “talk” to a man who assumes he is (or was) “liberal scholar “.. This comment would negate the “liberal” art “The American public has been passively swallowing nonsense like this for 30 years now…”Reagan Brady shooting kicked off the Vote Whore rush for a cause).” and using a NON PEER REVIEWED statistics to begin with negates the “scholar” part.. Nice try at propaganda though, it plays to the audience i.e. only those with your beliefs that Sorry no matter what PS the part where you know the excuse “criminals can get guns anywhere ” lmao they get them FROM the millions that OWN those guns aka YOU ha ha duh “DOJ study, gun owners also provided criminals with ample opportunities to arm themselves through firearm theft: “From 1987-1992 victims reported an annual average of about 341,000 incidents of firearm theft. ” Of course that doesn’t count all of those people who own them illegally and don’t report them stolen. only a moron would believe a study that made the statement that over 2.5 million pple have defended themselves yearly …yes in their own minds not in reality.. again lets make it simple for “the scholar” “The 2.5 million figure would lead us to conclude that, in a serious crime, the victim is three to four times more likely than the offender to have and use a gun.” 20 years ago of course by the time of your biased writing..

        • johnrlott says:

          Sorry, David, this is indeed junk science for the reasons that Rey mentions. The public health literature is decades behind other areas in terms of the quality of their statistics. Here is a brief discussion of Kellermann’s work from my book (University of Chicago Press, 2010, 3rd edition) https://crimeresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Kellermann-MGLC.png

          I assume that you know that the reason the DOJ’s NCVS gets a low number of defensive gun uses compared to other surveys is the screening question that it asks. The difference is that the NCVS asks if someone has been a victim before they can ask about any other questions that would lead to asking about defensive gun uses. The surveys that get much higher rates of defensive gun uses ask people if they or someone they have been with have been threatened with violence. The difference is clear: many of those who successfully used guns defensively didn’t view themselves as having become victims of violent crime because they had stopped the attack before it reached that point.

    • The Odd Duck says:

      When the rich and famous and off duty policemen give up their guns…

    • WILLIAM TIPTON says:

      “a gun in the home is far more likely to result in accidental harm than to ever be used against a potential assailant”
      ================
      REALLY?
      Because NO ONE I know who owns a gun in over 4 decades has EVER had an accident with one.
      Ive used my guns about half a dozen times to stop assaults, burglaries, a car jacking and even an attempted robbery at a local gas station.
      So..tell me again how my guns are more dangerous to people in my home

    • Tango says:

      Just like the much ballyhooed “federal stem cell research ban” didn’t ban all research or public funding for research using cord stern cells, just publicly funded research using fetally derived cells, the “ban” on CDC research was on studies conducted specifically to promote gun control.

      The actual wording of the Dickey Amendment is “Provided further, That none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control”. It’s in H.R. 3610 (104th): Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, 1997, on page 245 of the version available at https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Documents/pl104_208.pdf.

      Not an unreasonable step, given that ever since 1979, the official goal of the CDC’s parent agency, the U.S. Public Health Service, had been “…to reduce the number of handguns in private ownership”, starting with a 25% reduction by the turn of the century.”

      Forbes had a great article about this, including this part:

      “There was a very good reason for the gun violence research funding ban. Virtually all of the scores of CDC-funded firearms studies conducted since 1985 had reached conclusions favoring stricter gun control. This should have come as no surprise, given that ever since 1979, the official goal of the CDC’s parent agency, the U.S. Public Health Service, had been “…to reduce the number of handguns in private ownership”, starting with a 25% reduction by the turn of the century.””

      There is also evidence that the CDC engaged in active suppression of studies that did not support their agenda, so please, stop buying the crybaby political activists in the lab coats.

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2013/02/12/why-the-centers-for-disease-control-should-not-receive-gun-research-funding/#5bc467b42eb5

      As for the gun industry lobbying to prohibit criminal prosecution for accidental deaths caused by the negligent actions of a gun owner, they haven’t. They lobbied to be excluded from malicious “catch-all” lawsuits that attempted to blame their products for functioning as designed while being used by other, third parties that they have no control over. If you think that is wrong, then is it okay to sue Ford, GM and Chrysler for people that kill and hurt others while DUI or drag racing?

  6. Natakel says:

    Well and accurately stated.

    As recently as two months ago I watched an “expert” guest on a news show parrot that same debunked Kellerman survey, and it went unchallenged by the host.

  7. OG says:

    seems in line with cause and effect. violence is the cause for individuals to own firearms for self defense but violence comes in a far wider and broader definition then defense does, there are more aggressions then defenses because one is proactive and one is reactive. to say we should all stop reacting to violence seems self defeating but it is also the only suggestion anyone has for stopping gun violence. “you cant own protection from violence” laws keep people from the best protection they can have and the intelligent don’t listen to law makers when deciding how to protect themselves and their families. The lawful use of firearms IS the only protection anyone has against violent crimes unless you want to wear an electrified bullet proof vest everywhere you go. or maybe jimmy johns can send someone faster then the cops who has a club (sandwich)

  8. […] Funny thing, we even have statistics to prove it. From Crime Prevention Research Center: […]

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  11. […] Going on the attack won’t help anyone see your point of view. While there are lots of statistics supporting homeschooling as a great way to educate children, statistics don’t change people’s minds. We know this because the majority of Americans still think guns kill more children than bathtubs. […]

  12. The Odd Duck says:

    When I started to look at it in that manner I realize that we have 68% of the homicides are done by firearms in which we have 20,000 plus federal, state, and local laws. With 32% non-firearms are persona non grata. What we need to do is to break the cycle of dynamics violence or the lack of moral control and self-esteem.

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