In January of 2016, John Lott notified the CDC that their numbers for accidental firearms deaths in Tennessee were in error. He spotted the error and made the prediction that the number was incorrect, based on his knowledge of the statistics.
In September of 2016, an anti-Second Amendment group, put out a news release, touting the numbers and calling for harsh new infringments on the Second Amendment.
That press release page has been taken down, without any correction. But the press release lives on in a Tennessee paper's reporting. From memphisdailynews.com:
In a news release, The Safe Tennessee Project, a grassroots gun-violence prevention organization, said that 105 people died in the state from accidental gunshots in 2014, media outlet reported.
The year before that, there were 19 such deaths in Tennessee, and the state had ranked ninth in accidental shootings.
"We've actually been aware of the new numbers for several months, but the increase was so dramatic that we wanted to confirm the numbers before reporting them," said Beth Joslin Roth, Policy Director for The Safe Tennessee Project.
According to Roth, the group first asked the CDC and state health officials to check the numbers for accuracy. Those figures were then verified.
But John Lott had already alerted the CDC to the problem in the data. The CDC has not yet corrected the data, though they admit an error that increased the numbers was made. From CDC:
Note Regarding Unintentional Firearm Deaths in 2014Lott has reported that the actual number for Tennessee was 5, not 105. That is a drop from 19 in 2013, to 5 in 2014.
There was a coding error in the 2014 file that increases the number of unintentional firearm deaths (W32-W34: Accidental discharge of firearms) substantially in some states. The error was not technically isolated to any particular state, but because of the nature of the error, data from some states (TN, NC) were affected more than others in 2014. Results for 2014 unintentional firearm deaths should be interpreted with caution.
An error of 100 is enormous in this data set. It is 20% of all the fatal firearms accidents in the United States. The corrected number for 2014 should be 486, not 586, for the entire nation. That would be the lowest number of fatal firearms accidents in a year on record.
One of the most important tests of scientific theories are their predictive value. This correction does much to cement John Lott's reputation for understanding the phenomena better than those who disagree with him. He saw the data, predicted that it was in error, and his prediction has been validated.
I look forward to the corrected data being published by the CDC.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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