Misleading headlines leave public confused

March 27, 2017

Misleading headlines leave public confused

A study released by the Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) shows a wide range of issues placing Canadian youth, both new Canadians and soil-born, at risk. Legal gun owners are left frustrated as headlines across the country imply a "child a day" is shot in Ontario. A brief review of the study itself reveals that the scope may be too broad to provide an actual foundation for the headline's implication.  Everything from Nerf guns to youth gang members shot by police, and beyond are included.

Fom Dr. Caillan Langmann;

  1. The major flaw with this study is the type of injuries is not specified in the paper. The ICD codes (disease codes) include pellet guns and other air gun injuries which would involve airsoft and paintball.
  2. As well "accidental injury" includes a legal intervention such as police shooting or discharge. I would not include this as an accidental injury necessarily.
  3. The age group cohorts are less than 15 and 15-24. The injuries and assaults in the less than 15 are very small numbers and obviously the majority of data comes from the more adult age group. Many of these may not be children as we define them (<18) at all. In medicine a pediatric patient is <18 years old. Hence no real valid data on pediatric patients can be obtained from this study.
  4. Rural can be an area like Brampton. The major real numbers of assaults and injuries come from the Urban areas. More specifically associated with a demographic that is involved in criminal activity. This cannot be applied to your average rural gun owner.
  5. Any recommendation, if any can be made from this study, would be that to reduce harm, we should be targeting at risk youth involved in pre-crime or low risk crime to reduce their entry into criminal risk behaviour.
Dr. Langmann, MD PhD FRCPS ABEM, Assistant Professor Medicine McMaster University, author of Canadian Firearms Legislation and Effects on Homicide 1974 to 2008.

You can read the CPS study here

Media, across the country is eager to feed this story to the masses, with their own intentional, emotion-based spin.



It should be noted that the articles clearly leave out some important data from the study itself; whether the firearms are or are not legally owned and the majority of "victims" are youth between 15-24 from urban areas. This may imply gang activity is prevalent in the data. The study also includes injury due to Nerf guns and paintball, which are not firearms and do not reflect the media's description of "gunshots".  

figure 1

From their own study, the trends are obvious.

From Professor Gary Mauser; "There were 17 unintentional firearms fatalities in 2012 of all ages -- the most recent year data is available from StatsCan. Here is an analysis I did of StatsCan data a few years ago. On average, one child under 10 is accidentally killed each year by gunshot."


Gary Mauser is a leading authority on Canadian firearm related issues and legislation critic


To engage in the effort to improve the safety of Canadian youth, we need to have an honest, fact-based discussion on these issues. The CCFR is committed to advocacy through education and welcome media, political figures and the general public to contact us for expert support.


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