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Wednesday, June 15, 2022


GUEST BLOG / By Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post
--President Biden’s speech on June 2 advocating for new laws to stem gun violence included several statements we have fact-checked before. But he offered a startling new statistic that cried out for an explanation: “Over the last two decades, more school-aged children have died from guns than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined.” 

First of all, we should note that the numbers add up. Whether they should be added up or if these are apples and oranges is another question. 

The figure on school-aged children comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has an interactive online database that provides information on fatal and nonfatal injuries and violent deaths. 

The White House told us that it defined “school-aged children” as between ages 5 and 18 and “two decades” as 2001-2020. Within those parameters, searching for death by firearm, you get 42,507 deaths. 

For military deaths for the same period, we turned to the Defense Casualty Analysis System. That database yields 25,527 active-duty military deaths between 2001 and 2020. 

Finally, the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) lists 3,583 deaths from active-duty officers in 2001-2020. Between the military and the police, that’s a total of 29,110. 

But the number of firearm deaths for school-age children drops quite a bit when you do not include 18-year-olds. There are, of course, many students who turn 18 while they are in their senior year. 

But they are also adults who in most states are able to purchase firearms such as rifles. So it’s a judgment call whether to include them. Removing 18-year-olds would drop the gun death number to 28,559 — just slightly fewer than the total for the military and police. There are other issues with this statistic, which we explore in the full fact check. For the full fact check, please CLICK HERE.  

The Washington Post always looking for fact-check suggestions. You can reach us via email, Twitter (@GlennKesslerWP and @AdriUsero) or Facebook.. 

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