Behind Bloomberg’s Statistics

Michael Bloomberg / AP

Michael Bloomberg / AP


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg appeared on NBC’s Meet The Press over the weekend to talk about gun control in the wake of the tragic school shooting in Connecticut. The news baron challenged Obama to increase gun control and said illegal firearms would gun down 48,000 Americans over the next four years.

Bloomberg says the president must take “immediate action” and show leadership on the issue.  “If he does nothing during his second term, something like 48,000 Americans will be killed with illegal guns,” Bloomberg said of Obama. “That is roughly the number of Americans killed in the whole Vietnam War.”

Where did Bloomberg get this fact?

The number comes from an anti-gun group cofounded by Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. A political ad from Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund revealed that the statistic comes from the Center for Disease Control.

The CDC released its final data for causes of deaths in 2009 in December 2011. Firearms were responsible for 11,493 homicides as a result of an assault, according to the report. The CDC did not release a four-year projection as Bloomberg or his group implies. Mayors Against Illegal Guns simply multiplied the number of deaths in 2009 by four and claimed it was a projection.

Gun-related deaths appear to be on the wane, however. The CDC released preliminary data for causes of deaths in 2011 in October. The report shows that the number of deaths as a result of assault with a firearm decreased by 392 to 11,101 in 2011, a 3.4 percent decrease. (The census estimates America’s population at nearly 315 million.)

Bloomberg and his group have yet to update the projection.

Additionally, the word “illegal” is used one time in the CDC report in reference to drugs not guns. Mayor Bloomberg simply assumes that all gun deaths were the result of “illegal” guns.