Fact check: NSC statistics expert addresses misleading news reports on gun violence

fact check
Photo: Kagenmi/istockphoto

Itasca, IL – Recent media coverage of the tragic shooting in Las Vegas that killed at least 58 people and injured nearly 500 others on Oct. 1 – the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history – included some misuse of National Safety Council statistics, according to Ken Kolosh, manager of the statistics department at NSC.

Kolosh wrote a post for the council’s “Safety First” blog on Oct. 9 to clarify data regarding gun violence in the United States.

He points to one news report that cited NSC when stating that people are more likely to die from an assault with a gun than in a car accident. Another claimed that death from an armed assault is 50 percent more likely than dying while riding in a car, truck or van.

“Both of these statements are misleading,” Kolosh wrote.

According to Injury Facts, the council’s annual statistical report on unintentional injuries, a person’s chance of being killed by a firearm assault is 1 in 370 – far less likely than the 1 in 114 chance of dying in a vehicle crash. In addition, people are more likely to die from an overdose or an intentional self-inflicted gunshot wound than by being shot by someone.

“At NSC, we believe that knowing the true hazards affecting us all is a critical first step to improving our safety,” Kolosh wrote. “The council is a data-driven organization. Having the right numbers and knowing what they mean is at the core of our approach to identifying the dangers most likely to affect us – and the solutions to protect ourselves from those hazards.”