The journalists at ABC are again going after gun ownership in the most absurd manner possible. Diane Sawyer and David Muir want American parents to know that they shouldn't leave unattended guns around toys, candy and in the backpacks of children. On the Monday and Thursday World News, as well as Friday's Good Morning America, Sawyer and Muir previewed their hour-long Young Guns special and portrayed an epidemic of accidental shootings involving kids.
The ABC program, designed to show how Americans dangerously keep their guns, featured weapons stuffed in ridiculous, staged locations. On Monday, David Muir explained, "Those parents agreeing to take part at an elementary school in St. Petersburg, Florida." As video showed guns being jammed in backpacks and in a box of plastic spiders, Muir narrated, "The teacher running the experiment, telling the children they're there for a memory test and she has to go for a second. But there's candy on the table." [MP3 audio here.]
Sawyer used a new study in the journal Pediatrics to justify the experiments:
DIANE SAWYER: The study, tonight, revealing that 7,391 children rushed to the hospital every year with those gun injuries. So often, accidents in the home. Four hundred and fifty three of those children die at the hospital.
Talking to an ER doctor, Muir misleadingly suggested, "These are gunshot wounds that have happened inside the home, generally?"
On Friday, GMA co-host George Stephanopoulos called the numbers "stunning" and marveled, "Every hour a child hospitalized because of guns. Every other day a child killed."
What Sawyer, Stephanopoulos and Muir didn't explain is that the study included "children" up to age 20 and that most of the deaths were crime-related. NBCNews.com looked into the numbers and revealed:
Studying the 2009 Kids’ Inpatient Database (KID), which tracks pediatric hospital stays, the Yale researchers discovered 7,391 children under age 20 had been hospitalized for firearm related injuries, with 453 of those patients dying. The data in KID has been gathered since 1997 as part of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services, with 2009 the most recent release.
Most of the injuries, 4,559, resulted from assaults, while 2,149 were from accidents and 270, the result of suicide attempts.
Despite the fact that most people would not call 20-year-old adults "children," and that the majority of the deaths were from crime, ABC chose to stack the deck and feature elementary students playing with weapons.
On Friday, Sawyer innocently claimed she only wanted to "bring together gun owners, non-gun owners" and "address this together as neighbors and see what we could do about those numbers. She seemed to indicate that the program would have some sympathetic images of gun owners and NRA program. Yet, the GMA preview featured young children (guided by their parents) training with weapons clearly too big for them.
This isn't the first time ABC has pulled such a stunt. On the May 21st, 1999 editions of Good Morning America and 20/20, Sawyer and her crew hid guns in toy chests. She ominously queried, "Another question we've asked for tonight, can you really warn kids enough about guns that they'll stay away from them?"
SAWYER: We took a group of kids and we did just that, we gave them an intense warning. And then we took another group of kids and sent them all into a playroom with lots of toys, and something else, three real, unloaded and disabled guns. While their parents watched, here's what our hidden cameras recorded. [MP3 audio here.]
As very young kids found the firearms mixed in with toys, Sawyer concluded, "They looked down the barrels, pulled the triggers. And it wasn't long before the shooting began. Meet four-year-old Paige, blowing smoke from the barrel, shooting her partner and then dialing for help."
The host intoned that her investigation is "one no parent can afford to miss."
For the World News segment on Monday, Muir made sure to point out that prior to the experiment, the children had been shown the National Rifle Association's Eddie Eagle training video. 20/20 did the same in 1999. Back then, Sawyer snidely explained, "It is an article of faith with the National Rifle Association...that many of these incidents could be prevented if kids were taught proper respect for guns."
Perhaps not hiding guns with candy, toys and in backpacks would be a good start? An hour of primetime isn't needed to make this point. Instead, Sawyer and Muir are transparently trying to scare Americans with misleading statistics and staged video of young kids in danger.
ABC again promoted the hidden gun danger in 2009. The latest special will air at 10pm on Friday.