PG NewsPG delivery
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Home Page
PG News: Nation and World, Region and State, Neighborhoods, Business, Sports, Health and Science, Magazine, Forum
Sports: Headlines, Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Collegiate, Scholastic
Lifestyle: Columnists, Food, Homes, Restaurants, Gardening, Travel, SEEN, Consumer, Pets
Arts and Entertainment: Movies, TV, Music, Books, Crossword, Lottery
Photo Journal: Post-Gazette photos
AP Wire: News and sports from the Associated Press
Business: Business: Business and Technology News, Personal Business, Consumer, Interact, Stock Quotes, PG Benchmarks, PG on Wheels
Classifieds: Jobs, Real Estate, Automotive, Celebrations and other Post-Gazette Classifieds
Web Extras: Marketplace, Bridal, Headlines by Email, Postcards
Weather: AccuWeather Forecast, Conditions, National Weather, Almanac
Health & Science: Health, Science and Environment
Search: Search by keyword or date
PG Store: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette merchandise
PG Delivery: Home Delivery, Back Copies, Mail Subscriptions

Headlines by E-mail

Headlines Region & State Neighborhoods Business
Sports Health & Science Magazine Forum

Magazines: Writer aims at gun 'truths'

Thursday, April 13, 2000

By Bill Steigerwald, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Bill Bradley threw the bogus figure around all the time during his failed primary run and no one called him on it.

TV, newspapers and gun-shy commentators know and chant the figure by heart. It's a tragic, stomach-turning number that is repeated constantly during America's war on guns: 13 American children die each day from gun violence.

Sometimes the number is given as 16 a day or 17. But as Dave Kopel bluntly points out in the gun-kissing April 17 issue of National Review, the numbers are a lie. Even that 13-per-day figure is exaggerated by a factor of four -- unless you count a 19-year-old drug dealer who is killed in a shoot-out as a "child."

Kopel, a think-tank researcher from Colorado, doesn't feign neutrality in "An Army of Lies." Relying on FBI and National Institute of Justice figures, he sets out to debunk various "truths" we've been taught by the anti-gun lobby and its mostly unquestioning allies in mainstream media.

In fact, he says, for children under 14 the real daily death rate by guns is 2.6 -- still a national tragedy. For children under 10, it's 0.4 per day. That, too, is a sorry fact. But, as he argues, it is "far lower than the number of children who are killed by automobiles, drowning or many other causes."

Many of us have been led to believe America is littered with the bodies of children who have died from gun violence -- deliberate or accidental. In fact, Kopel says, the number of fatal gun accidents is at its lowest level since 1903, when figures were first kept.

Kopel is an anti-anti-gun nut. But his argument that gun-hatred has blinded many of us to the reality of gun use and abuse is supported by the official stats and a disturbing March 27 article in the Christian Monitor by statistician Iain Murray.

Murray, a senior research analyst at the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS), reported that when it comes to murdering children -- which Americans do at a rate four times Western Europe's -- there's a greater problem with our culture than just gun abuse.

Murray said that in 1997, according to the FBI, of 738 children under age 13 murdered in the United States, 133 were killed with one of America's 250 million guns. Apparently children are most at risk from knife violence, blunt-object violence and fist violence -- and most of them live in big cities on the East and West coasts and in the Southwest. According to Murray, 85 percent of America's counties did not have a single child murder in 1997.

QUICK READS: Remember Beirut? Before it tore itself to political, religious and ethnic bits in a 15-year civil war that started in 1975, the capital of Lebanon was the Switzerland of the Mideast. The April Smithsonian offers written and photographic proof that, though it still has a lot of rebuilding and plaster work to do, it's a safe and civilized city again.

Offspring, a k a "the Magazine of Smart Parenting," has just been born. For its debut issue, the quarterly published by the folks who put out SmartMoney ranks the Best 100 children's books. As chosen by 2,000 librarians responding to Offspring's survey, when the Harry Potter books are out, their top five recommendations are Roald Dahl's "The Witches" series, Brian Jacques' "Redwall" series, J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia" series and Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" series.

And all good hometowners should probably be rooting for the business magazine Context to win a National Magazine Award for general excellence on May 3. Edited by Paul Carroll, a former staffer at this paper and a 17-year vet of the Wall Street Journal, Context is aimed narrowly -- at 45,000 senior executives at companies with at least $200 million in revenues.

Started as a marketing tool by the Chicago consulting company Diamond Technology Partners, it is nevertheless interesting to the lay reader and can be found hiding on better newsstands everywhere. Its current issue features Carroll's interview with Jerry Yang, the co-founder of Yahoo! who six years ago was a lowly geek but today is a 31-year-old multibillionaire.

Bill Steigerwald's e-mail address is

bottom navigation bar Terms of Use  Privacy Policy