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Trump vs. Clinton: Dead Kids Are Not a Good Argument


(Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images; Pacific Standard)

In a short discussion on gun control, Hillary Clinton took the ready-made viral route: citing not just the deaths of children (and easy political point), but the fact that toddlers tend to actually shoot and kill adults, which is actually true. The Washington Postreported in May that toddlers have shot at least 23 children as of that month. In 2015, the Post found that toddlers were shooting and killing gun owners at a rate of about one a week.

Does this have any actual relevance to gun control? Not really. Per the Post’s Christopher Ingraham:

Georgia is home to the highest number of toddler shootings, with at least eight incidents since January 2015. Texas and Missouri are tied for second place with seven shootings each, while Florida and Michigan are tied for fourth, with six shootings apiece.

You might think that toddler shootings are simply a function of population — the more people who live in an area, the more toddlers are likely to shoot someone. But that doesn’t appear to be wholly the case. California and New York are two high-population states that have seen only three toddler shootings between them since 2015.

And Illinois, home to infamously high rates of gun violence in Chicago, has not seen a single toddler shooting since 2015.

Murderous toddlers make for a great debate soundbite, but Clinton would be better suited to focus on, say, repealing the Dickey Amendment, which prohibits funding for research on gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. After all, how could politicians design legislation to address a major crisis without first understanding the scope and depth of the problem they’re trying to fix in the first place?

Besides, focusing on knowledge is a great way to shaft the modern avatar of the Know-Nothing Party of American politics past.