News Flash: Washington Post Calls the Biden White House’s Favorite Anti-Gun Lie…a Lie

The Washington Post

It was a “The Pigs are Flying” moment after The Washington Post, the newspaper that has never found a gun control policy it did not fawn over, took up a gun control claim the Biden administration loves to repeat and determined it to be false.

To be clear, Glenn Kessler’s The Fact Checker couldn’t bring itself to award any Pinocchios – not one – to the false claim, but its thorough breakdown and analysis of the claim left nothing misunderstood. Saying that “Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children” is patently “Not True.”

We won’t hold our collective breaths for The White House to issue a formal statement acknowledging their repeated lie. Instead, we’re assuming President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, White House officials and gun control activists will simply continue repeating the false claim. And notwithstanding The Washington Post’s fact checking, this lie will likely continue to be uncritically reported as “fact” by the mainstream media.

Still, having The Washington Post take up the claim and acknowledge it is false should be deserving of at least a little praise.

Favorite False Claim

President Biden has repeated the claim often as he pushes again and again for more gun control. He began his campaign for the presidency in 2019 by calling firearm manufacturers “the enemy.” He now uses the “firearms are the leading cause of death for children” to push ever more restrictions on the Second Amendment while saying little to nothing about holding violent criminals accountable, let alone calling out soft-on-crime prosecutors who let those same criminals back out on the streets to commit more crimes.

Vice President Harris recited the false claim in two recent events in North Carolina and in Washington, D.C. The White House used the false claim as a lede in a recent press release announcing new White House unilateral gun control executive actions.

There’s no telling how often it has been repeated by U.S. Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, governors and any number of other local elected officials and gun control activists pushing the claim as a reason why more gun control is needed.

CBS Evening News ran a segment repeating the claim. So did ABC News.

Repeating the claim doesn’t change the fact that it is false.

“When you focus only on children — 17 and younger — motor vehicle deaths (broadly defined) still rank No. 1, as they have for six decades,” The Washington Post reported. “In the interest of accuracy, it would be better for White House officials to refer to children and teens when citing these reports. When all motor vehicle accidents are counted, then motor vehicle deaths continue to exceed firearm deaths for children — defined as people under age 18 — whether or not infants are included.” Better? How about true.

Debunked Immediately

The claim in question came about as a result of a faulty study published by the University of Michigan Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention in April 2022. That study included Americans aged 18 and 19 years old – adults – in the data set as well as manipulated motor vehicle crash data to assert firearms became the “leading cause of death among children and adolescents” in 2020.

Junk science professor formula calculation

NSSF debunked the study when it was published in April 2022.

In his dissection of the misleading study, NSSF’s Salam Fatohi summarized the ruse, writing, “Since at least the 1990’s, gun control advocates have used this trick of including adults in the data set to inflate the number of ‘children’ to evoke an emotional reaction from readers of these studies to sway public opinion in favor of their agenda.” That’s exactly why the claim is still repeated so often today.

In The Washington Post analysis, The Fact Checker even included a White House spokesperson admitting this was their angle all along and that The Washington Post regularly uses the same tactic.

“A White House official said it is standard practice for such research reports to include 18- and 19-year-olds in the data. He noted that The Washington Post, in writing about one of these reports, used ‘children’ in the headline, even though the report covered gun deaths of children and adolescents.”

Spreading the Truth

Following The Washington Post’s admission that the claim is false and the data had been manipulated, a handful of news sites took notice and highlighted the debunking.

Tom Knighton at Bearing Arms posted about the Fact Check, noting “Washington Post: Guns AREN’T the Leading Cause of Death for Kids.”

“Among the left, the Post is still one of the gold-standard publications that can and should be listened to. The Washington Post declined to give any Pinocchios, which is what they use to rate claims, but they do a pretty good job of dismantling the study cited by anti-gun politicians like the vice president,” Knighton wrote. “Whether someone wants to take our word about the issues with the study, though, is now irrelevant. It’s entirely likely they will listen to The Washington Post about guns and child deaths. They won’t, however, like what they see.”

At Hot Air, John Sexton wrote about it as well. “It has become commonplace for the White House and left wing commentators to claim that gun violence is the number one cause of death for children,” Sexton wrote. “Ultimately, Kessler doesn’t give this misleading claim a rating… It would also be nice if fact-checkers and reporters would point out how carefully massaged the data behind these claims are when the claims are made instead of waiting most of a year to explain it.”

Dan Zimmerman at Shooting News Weekly also covered The Washington Post’s admission. “After much prefatory throat-clearing about the amount of ‘gun violence’ in this country…, Kessler finally concludes with this gem when it comes time to award the Pinocchios: ‘In the interest of accuracy, it would be better for White House officials to refer to children and teens when citing these reports’… It must have physically hurt him to write even that much.”

The firearm industry takes pride in our efforts to use data and facts in our initiatives to reduce unintended firearm tragedies as much as possible and to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not possess them. We’ve been gratified to play a role in having that number reach historic lows in the past years and will continue to help reduce firearm tragedies even lower, especially among America’s children.

The Biden administration and The White House ought to ditch the junk science lies and instead focus on Real Solutions to reduce criminal firearm violence. After all, President Biden complimented the firearm industry’s efforts in the past, that is before deeming the industry “the enemy.”


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

One Response

  1. It’s bad enough the fact checker couldn’t call a lie a lie even while writing it’s a lie but the comments under that piece are eye opening for anyone who thinks a reasonable dialog is possible with these people. An endless parade of ideologues saying it’s okay that they lied because gunz-r-bad and “20 years old or 30 years old they’re all precious children” and that this fact check “lessens the magnitude of tragedy” and perhaps most bizarre “how dare the WaPo carry water for the gun manufacturers and NRA” (really, that’s a repeated comment).

    Lying, to them, absolutely justifies the end goal.

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