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The Trace: CDC To Review its Nonfatal Shooting Data, A Potential Step Toward Improving Accuracy

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has hired outside evaluators to review its process for estimating the number of nonfatal shootings in the U.S., The Trace’s Daniel Nass reported Wednesday. The step follows public scrutiny of the nonfatal shooting injury database maintained by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and acknowledgements from the CDC about the limitations of injury estimates based on the database.

In light of the questions raised by prior reporting, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund released a new report in November on nonfatal shootings in the United States, drawing on new analysis of millions of hospital discharge records to estimate that approximately 73,330 people are wounded in nonfatal shootings each year in the U.S.

According to The Trace, the CDC’s evaluation may be the first step toward improving its own estimates. Nass reports:

The assessment will scrutinize the sample of hospitals that feeds the CPSC’s nonfatal injury database. As The Trace and FiveThirtyEight first reported, that sample is currently very small, which can result in wildly unreliable estimates. According to an excerpt of the work contract provided by a CPSC spokesperson, the review will seek to “understand the pros and cons of keeping the current samples, expanding the current samples, or resampling the hospital emergency departments.” The review will also suggest new methods for making calculations for certain types of injuries that vary widely between hospitals.

Read the Trace’s full story here.

In the absence of reliable nonfatal shooting estimates, Everytown’s 2019 analysis used data from a federal database of roughly 30 million hospital discharge records to estimate the total number of nonfatal firearm injuries, as well as injuries by demographic group. Among other takeaways, the November report noted:

  • For those living in the lowest-income neighborhoods, the likelihood of being wounded in a shooting is seven times higher than those living in the highest-income neighborhoods.
  • One in six gun injuries involves a child or teen.
  • Half of all injuries took place in one region, the American South. In fact, the South has the highest rate of nonfatal firearm injuries, with 30.5 injuries per 100,000 people—about 2.5 times that of the lowest region: the Northeast.

Read the full report here.