Gun control advocates pressured CDC to remove statistics on defensive gun use

"That 2.5 Million number needs to be killed, buried, dug up, killed again and buried again," wrote Mark Bryant, executive director of the Gun Violence Archive.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were reportedly pressured by gun control advocates during a private meeting into removing statistics related to defensive gun uses (DGU), according to a series of emails published by The Reload.

The CDC-commissioned study found that instances of defensive gun use occurred between 60,000 and 2.5 million times per year, the higher figure specifically coming from a study by Professor Emeritus at Florida State University's College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Gary Kleck.

"[T]hat 2.5 Million number needs to be killed, buried, dug up, killed again and buried again," wrote Mark Bryant, executive director of the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), and one of the attendees at the meeting, in one of the emails. "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," Bryant's email continued. "Put simply, in the time that study has been published as 'a CDC Study' gun violence prevention policy has ground to a halt, in no small part because of the misinformation that small study provided."

Kleck, who was not consulted by the CDC prior to the decision, stood by his research, arguing that removal of his estimate amounted to "blatant censorship" and that the "CDC is just aligning itself with the gun-control advocacy groups."

CDC officials were initially resistant to removing the statistic, arguing that Bryant's GVA only inspected "a very small subset of people who have used guns defensively," excluding those "who might have used guns defensively, but not reported this use to law enforcement."

A subsequent email from Beth Reimels, Associate Director for Policy, Partnerships, and Strategic Communication at the CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention, wstated that their fact sheet would be updated in early 2022.

"We will also make some edits to the content we discussed that I think will address the concerns you and other partners have raised," she added.

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