When you have two government agencies generating conflicting data, which do you believe disbelieve less?
I ran across this story today:
CDC: Firearm-Related Homicides Surged During Obama’s Last 2 Years in Office
According to the CDC, “the number of firearm-related homicides was relatively stable during 2010–2014,” then firearm-related homicides sharply increased. For example, there were 11,008 firearm-related homicides in 2014 and that number rose to 14,415 in 2016. That is a 31 percent increase.
Sure enough, the CDC’s WISQARS is now reporting 14,415 homicides by firearm. Which struck me as odd, because I’ve been using the figure 11,004 for 2016.
11,004 is exactly what the FBI’s UCR is reporting for 2016; that’s 3,411 fewer firearms-related murders than the CDC retroactively claims.
In fact, the UCR figure for total murders — any weapon — is 15,070, only 655 more than the CDC’s firearm-only murders claim. The CDC claims 19,362 total murders (+4,292 difference).
Oh, and the 2014 numbers for firearms-related homicides?
CDC 2014: 11,008
UCR 2014: 8,124 (A difference of 2,884 murders.)
The agencies use different sources for their data. The UCR is based on police incident reports. WISQARS comes from incident coding in medical reports. One or the other — or both — could be wrong. But clearly both need some quality assurance checking to see if either come close to reality.
I’d love to do a little research into the discrepancy myself, but as an unpaid volunteer, it’s beyond my means. If you’d like to see me dig into this, consider contributing a little to the cause.
ETA, 8//2018: Gee, how ’bout that?
CDC Finally Corrects Bad Data On Number of Firearm Deaths
However, in 2017, John Lott found a discrepancy. He noted that due to an error in Tennessee’s data, the total count was about 100 higher than it should have been. He notified the CDC and they acknowledged the mistake.
It just took them a year to finally fix it.
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